Myself along with every other millennial, have come of age where we have started to think about purchasing our first home. The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused an unprecedented rise in home buying. If you have not started the process of buying your own home, let’s walk through it with a visual journey map.
What are journey maps in the first place? Journey maps tell the story of a customer or consumer throughout each phase of the experience. These maps identify key interactions that customers have with the organization, as well as feelings and motivations for each touch point. The goal is to provide empathy for designers and to reveal consumers’ motivations, expectations, and goals. For a UX designer, a journey map helps to identify gaps or pain points during the customer experience.
Home Buying Journey Map
Let’s say Lamar and Katie just got married and are excited to begin the hunt for a new home! They have been renting for years and are looking forward to investing in their first home and building equity. They are leaning on friends and family who have purchased a home to help them through the many decisions on the home-buying process. Since this is their first big investment together, they are stressed about how much they can afford. The couple is excited about their new adventure together!
Deciding to buy a home is the first step in the journey to home ownership. Their thoughts during the first stage might be something that allows them to make the decision to buy, like, “I’m tired of renting, I’d like to build some equity.” Lamar and Katie would talk with family and friends about this big decision and do some market research online. Since researching the market can be an ambiguous task, I think it deserves some area of improvement. It would be nice if there was an easy, reliable place to look.
Now, getting pre-approved isn’t absolutely necessary, but, Lamar and Katie want to know how much house they can afford before they even begin looking. The second step in the home buying process includes several things: comparing banks and mortgage rates, picking a broker, submitting your financial details, getting your credit checked, and finally getting your pre-approval letter. These actions will make Katie and Lamar think more deeply about their credit and financial situation. Comparing mortgage rates online is not an easy task, which could use some improvement.
Now that Katie and Lamar have been pre-approved for a home loan and know how much they can afford, it’s time to talk with a realtor! Many people prefer to get a word-of-mouth reference for a good realtor. In step 3, the couple can get referrals and research realtors online. Once they’ve decided on a realtor they like, they will meet and discuss their housing needs and wants. Browsing many realtor websites and comparing can be daunting since each website is different. Lamar and Katie would love to see reviews on realtor’s portfolios.
Time to go house hunting! This is the best part of the home buying journey, and the most fun. Katie and Lamar check for housing listings frequently online and discuss viewings with their realtor. When they find a home they are interested in, the couple does an in-person walk-through of a house with their realtor. This step can be repeated several times until they find a house they are ready to make an offer on. In this case, Lamar and Katie find a house, and tell their realtor they are ready to make the jump.
Now that Katie and Lamar have decided that they are ready to move forward with a home, they work with their realtor to come up with an offer amount. The realtor then submits the offer to the selling agent. This is the most stressful part of the entire home buying process. Katie and Lamar are anxious, but hopeful! After 24 hours, their realtor calls and congratulates them on their accepted offer! There was no negotiation in this deal, but is possible in this step in the process.
The couple knows that they’re not out of the weeds yet. Their realtor congratulates them, but reminds them that there are still more important steps to take to ensure the house is in order. The bank has to arrange for an appraisal to find the value of the home. Katie and Lamar have to find and hire a home inspector to make sure there are no major issues with the home. The sale is contingent on the property not having any big problems. Finding reliable inspectors can be hard, so the couple relies on family and friends to give them references. They wish there was an easy way to compare prices and services online.
Good news for Katie and Lamar, the home inspection and appraisal went well! The new homeowners are relieved to hear their new home is in good shape. The home they were interested in will be theirs…after the paperwork is finished! The couple works with their realtor and the bank to finalize paperwork and loan details. After the paperwork is finished, their realtor hands them the keys to their new home!
Congratulations! Lamar and Katie now own their own home, and have to begin the next process…moving in!
Of course there are many steps within this broad, birds eye view of the journey to home ownership, but this map helps introduce the daunting idea and break it up into digestible and accomplishable parts. View the whole map below.