This information is helpful for first time home buyers or great to simply refresh the memory of any seasoned home buyer.
Pre-Qualification:Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.
Pre-Approval:A simple step but a very important and valuable step is getting pre-approved. While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home that you're interested in is priced at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Besides letting a seller your serious, you can discuss at detail with you mortgage broker all the costs and fees assoicated with home buying as well as get an ideal range of current market interest rates. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.
List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms or bathrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, office, etc.) but that aren't absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably won't get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you're looking for. A great goal in home buying is to get all the items that you need and if possible a few of wish items you want within the price you have set for you budget.
Representation by a Professional Agent: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller. A buyers agent will have your interests in mind and will extensive property search tools that will make the home search process easier and faster.
Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you've cut out from the newspaper.
Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search.
Instant or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you're attending a series of showings
Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?
Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light? Is there the ability to expand or upgrade?
Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later. Take your time, make a pros and cons list about each property your interested in. Include in the list any potential upgrades or repairs that may need to be done now or soon, this may help you decide if the home plus extra costs is worth buying.
Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as:
Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
Have the property inspected by a professional inspector(s).
Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
You want to check to see that no changes have been made that weren't agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
Final Thought: All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That's why having a professional real estate agent represent you and keep track of all the details for you is high recommended. Please email us or call us directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.