When buying a home, start the process early to ensure you get the home that’s right for you. Before you start looking, there are a few important steps to take: find a lender to get pre-approved, enlist the services of a respected professional to help you navigate through the process from start to finish, and create a checklist of must-haves for your new home.
The first step is to contact your lender and get pre-approved for a home loan. Knowing how much you can spend sets parameters around the price range and helps focus on homes that are within your budget. Because the housing market is in short supply of desirable homes for buyers, being pre-approved gives you an advantage and makes you more attractive as a buyer. Pre-approval is an important step because it allows you to make an offer as soon as you are ready, it demonstrates to the seller that you are serious, and it could save you the hassle and disappointment of losing out on the house of your dreams if there are multiple bidders.
Once you are pre-approved, or if you need help sourcing a lender for pre-approval, find a Buyer’s Agent, whose job it is to work in your best interest. Your agent provides all the necessary information for you to make an informed purchase and expertly negotiate the terms of the contract to see the deal through. A Buyer’s Agent works to get the lowest possible price for you in a very competitive real estate landscape and can help buyers avoid costly mistakes.
Refer to your checklist to match your needs with the houses you are considering, then do your research! Knowing what a community is like before you buy will set you up for happier times at your new home, so scout the neighborhoods you like. Make a point to drive through the areas in the morning, afternoon and at night to get the full picture. Go for a walk in the evening and talk to neighbors that you see and get their thoughts, good and bad, about the neighborhood. Do a test-run commute both ways to make sure the drive time and traffic meet your expectations. Also, knowing in advance how far places like the grocery store, schools and other frequent destinations will help you make an informed decision. Finally, school district reputations play a big role in impacting resale values, so whether you have school age kids or not, for better or worse, the district you live in will impact your home’s value.
Once you are pre-approved and have enlisted the help of a Buyer’s Agent, start looking for houses. The sooner you start looking the less chance you’ll have of feeling rushed into making a purchase. Prices are often driven up in the spring and summer because there are more buyers, and less buyers in the fall and winter sometimes means less competition, but also less houses on the market to choose from. The market is always changing, so the perfect time to buy a house truly is any time you find the right house for you.
It’s never too early to start the process of finding a new home. Remember, pre-approval allows you to be ready when the time is right, and working with a Buyer’s Agent can help you find a home and connect you with a lending institution. Being familiar with your neighborhood of choice before you buy will ensure there are no surprises and that your new home meets all of your “must-haves” on your checklist. By starting the process early and going through these simple steps, your home buying experience will be a pleasant one, and before you know it, you’ll be home, sweet home.