Work with your agent to complete the following:
Speak with a Mortgage Lender/Broker to obtain a pre-approval for a loan. This helps you determine your purchasing power and will give you insight on what properties you realistically can and cannot afford. Additionally a pre-approval assures the seller that you are qualified, providing you with an advantage when making your offer
Select an attorney who specializes in Real Estate Law, as you will need an attorney who specializes in this field. Time is often critical so make sure they are local and easily reached.
Finding your Home:
Develop some search parameters. This Typically includes, Location, Size of Apt, type of building, building amenities (if appropriate) and price range.
Choose an agent to work with: In Massachusetts agents have access to everything on the market so working with one broker allows you to efficiently schedule appointments as you begin your home search process. Working with multiple brokers might actually prolong your search as inevitably you will have the same properties shown to you.
Talk to your broker! Make sure to tell them your likes/dis-likes as no 2 people are the same just as no 2 properties are the same. If you are not comfortable with your broker, do not hesitate to let them know so that they may have the opportunity to refer you to a colleague who you may feel more comfortable with.
Submit a verbal offer through your Agent immediately who will then follow it up in writing. The offer will include such provisions as purchase price, down payment, amount of financing, included and/or excluded personal property (i.e. window treatments, lighting fixtures, etc) & preferred closing date. Once your offer is verbally "accepted" by the seller, your broker will notify the seller's attorney who in turn will draw up and send to your attorney the initial contract.
Keep in mind that sellers are allowed to hear ALL subsequent offers while your contract is negotiated (or finalized). In fact a seller may accept another purchaser's offer up to the point of a fully signed, executed and returned contract. This means that until your contract is signed by both you and the seller, your deal may not sustain as the primary deal. Therefore, instruct your attorney to proceed expeditiously.
Immediately apply for a mortgage (if applicable). Your agent will work with your mortgage broker/bank to coordinate the appraisal of the property and provide the bank with requested information on the building. The loan process typically involves several steps from application to appraisal and finally approval. This process may take up to 45 days to complete and hinges on your ability to provide all of the required financial data to your broker/banker in a timely manner.