Thinking of buying your first home? What should you do? Follow these tips and get ready to stop making your landlord rich!
Congratulations on taking the first step to owning your own home!
The first time is the most exciting, and for many also scary because there is so much they don’t know. Hopefully these tips will help guide you to the joys of owning your very own home!
This involves meeting with a reputable mortgage lender (your credit union, your bank, or a mortgage broker you or your real estate broker know).
Getting pre-qualified will tell you what your max purchase price can be based on your income, assets, credit history, cash available for down payment, etc.
Determine your timing
Do you want to buy asap or in a year or two? This really depends on your personal and financial situation.
There is no bad time to look for and buy a home.
Spring gives us the most inventory of homes to choose from but it is also the time there are more buyers in the market, increasing competition. Late Summer and late Fall/early Winter are what I call “sale-rack” time. There are fewer homes on the market, limiting your choices, but often prices are slightly better and sellers are typically more motivated. You may (emphasis on may) be able to get a little better deal on a home, especially if it has been on the market a while.
Mostly, though, I say buy when you are ready and find your home. Any month of the year will do. Often people line up a home purchase with a lease expiration or some other life event.
Start looking at listings online
You can use Zillow or any other online portal. Realize that these portals are not as accurate or up-to-date as our Multiple Listing Service but they are ok to give you an idea of the homes that are for sale in your price range (see first item above) and in your area.
Even better, if you already have hired your Buyer Broker, they can set up a search for you and have new listings that meet your particular criteria delivered to your inbox daily. This is the most accurate and up-to-date resource you can get and also the easiest!
Drive around neighborhoods
Start driving around neighborhoods and homes for sale. Talk to people you see working in their yards, walking around, etc. Visit the local shops, restaurants, etc. Ask polite, non-threatening questions and listen. Get a sense of living there.
Note what you like and don’t like and from that begin to fine tune where you want to buy your first home.
NOTE: Do not take everyone literally. There will always be someone who is grumpy that day, or who does not like the neighborhood. However, look for commonalities.
Hire your very own Buyer Broker
No less than 3 months before you want to be in your new home, and perhaps as much as a year before, hire your buyer broker.
This is the real estate agent who will help you through every step of your selection and purchase. Who will advocate and negotiate for you, not the seller. Ask questions to determine that your broker knows the area well, the local market conditions, and the business really well. An experienced agent will usually be more knowledgeable than a new agent but we all have to start somewhere. If you do hire a new agent, ensure they have a mentor to help them help you . Someone with experience and knowledge.
Don’t be afraid to sign a Buyer Agency Agreement with the broker of your choice. This agreement outlines their responsibilities and duties to you, as well as yours to them. It spells out the rules of what you do for each other. It also tells the broker that they are going to get paid if they find and help you purchase your home. We all work for a living, don’t we. Important to note that if somewhere along the line, before your broker finds you your home, you are not happy with the arrangement, the agreement may be cancelled. Such cancellation must be done in writing and acknowledged. Usually this does not happen, however, and all will go smoothly.
Another benefit to having a signed Buyer Agency Agreement is that your broker will dedicate herself to you and finding your home. A buyer who is working with multiple agents or who doesn’t want to commit, will usually only get a mediocre broker to work with them. And who wants mediocre?
Good news! The buyer broker, while they work for you they are typically paid by the seller! Good deal!
Get pre-approved by your lender before you go out and start looking for your house.
This means providing your lender with a full application and all the documentation they require to verify employment, income, assets, etc. This will ensure that you will be able to finance your home purchase. It is highly advisable to do this in advance, for several reasons.
- A full lender pre-approval makes you a stronger buyer. It removes some of the risk from your mortgage contingency and sellers (and their brokers) like that very much. It may make the difference between paying less or more.
- It will make your life easier – once this is done, you can focus on the house, inspections, moving, etc.
Many buyers don’t do this and it can cost them money or even the house they really want. You’re going to have to do this anyway, so do it earlier and benefit from it!
Do your research
Lastly, do your research and trust your instincts. Work with people you like and trust, but make sure they are also competent and knowledgeable. Remember that while there is a LOT of wonderful information online, it is not always accurate. So read up on things, look at multiple resources, trust your instincts!
AND, HAVE FUN! With the right attitude, help & guidance, buying your first home will be exciting and fun!
For more information or to get started on your way to your dream home, call/text us at 720-295-1604 or email firstname.lastname@example.org