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The Step-by-Step Guide to Buying a Home in Idaho

  • Idaho has a home-buying process that requires the use of an escrow agent, closing agent, or representative from a title company. These professionals are used to complete the purchase transaction.
  • When buying a home in Idaho, your funds and the purchase contract will be held in escrow by a neutral party. They will be released when the agent or representative confirms that everyone has completed their roles. The agent or representative will also prepare the new title.
  • Documents are then signed and payments are made. The escrow company will then disburse all the necessary funds and the agent will deliver the house keys to the buyer.

Buying a Home in Idaho? Use this Step-by-Step Guide

Phase 1: Disclosures, Credits, and Home Inspections

Once you are in contract with a seller, these are the steps you need to take. In most cases, you can begin Phase 2 at the same time as Phase 1.

  1. First, an offer will be accepted by the seller. Now a contract is signed and the escrow process will begin.
  2. A deposit will now need to be made. This deposit is placed with the seller’s brokerage firm, an escrow agent, or an attorney, depending on the specific contract. It must never be delivered directly to the seller.
  3. When buying a home in Idaho, you will receive a seller’s property disclosure, which is a mandatory form that must be delivered within 10 days of the contract signing. This will outline various disclosures related to the property and will include known flaws to the house and surrounding property. As the buyer, you will have to review and sign this document, acknowledging your awareness of the stated flaws.
  4. You now have a specific number of days, as outlined in the contract, to perform any inspections to the property as you see fit. Typical inspections in Idaho include basic inspections by a general contractor, as well as termite inspections. You may also choose a property survey at this time. You’ll have a certain amount of days to complete inspections and respond to the current owner or selling agent.
  5. If any flaws or issues are found during the inspections, you’ll now have a chance to report the defects and, if you wish, terminate the contract. However, you can also ask that the seller make modifications or provide credits for the closing costs to cover the price of repairs. The seller can now agree to the requests, negotiate a solution, or refuse to make changes. Depending on the seller’s response, the buyer can either accept the response, continue negotiations, or walk away from the contract and recover their money, which is still held in escrow. For legal documentation, this must all be done in writing.
  6. The buyer can now negotiate a home warranty if they wish. Also called a home protection plan, this covers major appliances for about a year in the event of a failure.

Phase 2: The Mortgage Application and Approval

Buying a home in Idaho allows you to enjoy some of the most gorgeous views in the nation.

For people who borrow money to purchase a home, which includes most homebuyers, the mortgage application can be one of the most stressful and prolonged phases. However, if you start early, compile the right documents, and follow the steps, it can be easier and faster than you might think.

  1. To start the mortgage process for buying a home in Idaho, you will submit a loan application to your lender. This will be done either directly or through a mortgage broker. Pre-qualification should have been completed already.
  2. The lender will then calculate an estimate of the closing cost and send it to you in a document called a “good faith estimate,” also known as a GFE. Be aware that the final costs may differ, as this is simply an estimate.
  3. Working with your lender, you will now have to send a wide variety of information and financial disclosures. Specific documents will vary, but you can generally expect to need the following:
    – Bank statements for all the accounts that you own. This should include several months’ worth of information.
    – Information on outstanding loans, financial liabilities, and lines of credit. It can include documentation of rent payments as well.
    – Tax returns for the past two years. This should be released to the lender through the IRS’s Form 4506-T.
    – Contact information and pay stubs from your current employer.
    – Any other disclosures that are related to your financial situation. For example, if you pay or receive child support, it should be included. This can also include divorce settlements, court judgements, bankruptcies, and liens against your property.
    – You’ll also need to explain any credit inquiries, as these can impact your credit risk in the eyes of lenders.
    – If you have received any large payments, you’ll need to explain this income to lenders. Gifts can be helpful for funding a down payment, but your lender may request information on the gift in the form of a gift letter. This letter will outline the nature of the gift and state that it is not a loan, which is extremely important. Whether or not you need a gift letter will depend on the size of the deposit compared to your overall income. For example, a $5,000 gift to a person earning $30,000 a year may require a gift letter. But the same amount to someone earning $150,000 will probably not call for a letter.
    – Although it may seem silly, the lender will request verification information on some or all of the above documents. To reduce risk, they may want to double-check information such as your income or your total debt load. You may, therefore, be asked to bring multiple copies of pay stubs, rent information, or bank statements. Also, if there is a change in your financial picture, you may need to start the process all over.
  4. The lender will now give a preliminary approval decision, assuming all your information checks out. If approved, they will issue a preliminary loan approval, officially stating that your credit, income, and debt ratios are sufficient to fund the loan. There may be conditions however, including appraisals. It will generally include conditions regarding any material changes to your loan; basically, this condition says the loan can be dropped if you have changes to your financial or credit situation.
  5. Within a specific number of business days, the buyer must provide conditional-approval documents to the seller. This document will state that the buyer will be approved for the loan if the appraisal comes in equal or above the purchase price. This is basically a letter stating the lender’s commitment, and providing this document results in a loan contingency to the contract. If the buyer is unable to provide this letter by a certain date, the seller can inform the buyer and cancel the contract.
  6. The appraisal is then ordered by the lender or a mortgage broker. This is done through a directory of appraisers, which is sometimes called the Appraisal Management Company. The lender or broker cannot choose a specific appraiser, but they can request a different one if they wish. If the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price, the lender can decline to issue the loan, as lenders don’t want to fund a mortgage supported by a less-valuable property. Unless a change is made to the value of the home or the size of the down payment. In most Idaho contracts, an appraisal contingency is stated, which requires the property to appraise at or above the purchase price, or else the buyer is entitled to walk away from the contract and recover their money held in escrow.

The mortgage-approval process can be time consuming and frustrating, so we encourage you to start as soon as possible. With proper preparation, you can complete this phase quickly and move on.

This article on buying a home in Idaho is meant for general information only, and should not be taken as legal or financial advice. Laws change, so always talk with a qualified professional before making any significant decisions related to real estate.


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Chad Baker, CrossCountry Mortgage   
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