Moving in to a new home is one of the more exciting things we can do. The process seems simple enough – choose a house, write a big check and then move right in. Of course there is more to it. In fact, after selling homes since 1992, I know that no two transactions are the same. Knowing what to expect and doing it in the right order goes a long way towards archiving your goal. The following is my home buying 101.
Have a Firm Financial Foundation:
The foundation of a successful home purchase begins long before the home search. It begins with having a sound financial footprint. In today’s credit environment, a buyer needs both good credit and a sizable down payment. At least a few months before the contemplated purchase you should check your credit and make sure that there are not any surprises lurking. The days of 100% loans are gone, so you will need at a minimum 3.5% (FHA loans) plus closing costs ready to put down. If you are getting a conventional loan or buying investment property you will need a much larger down payment.
The internet gives you all of the information you could ever ask for at the click of a button. But when it comes right down to it, you need the assistance of a professional who has been through the process time and time again. Most people end up working with a Realtor, so why not engage one early on in the process? Realtor’s have tools that will save you time and put you on the right track sooner. I can set up an automatic email search and a password protected website that work together to give you all of the details about all of the houses you may be interested in. A good Realtor will help you navigate the process, get you the information you need and allow you to concentrate on your family and your job. Make sure you have found a Realtor who is more interested in helping you find a great house for the long haul rather than a quick sale for them. It takes patience and persistence to make sure you get the job done right.
The next step in the process, before you even view a home is to find a good lender and get pre-approved. Your Realtor should be able to recommend a few local lenders who have proven themselves to be responsive and know how to get the job done. Using a local lender is important, not only are they accountable but they are there to solve problems at the closing table if anything comes up at the last minute. Your earnest money is at stake! If your lender is delayed at the last minute or their money doesn’t make it to the closing table on time and the seller chooses not to give you an extension, you lose your earnest money. You cannot go back to your lender and recover those lost funds. Choosing a lender is more than finding the lowest interest rate, it is finding an advisor who will help you make a sound financial decision given your unique circumstances. The credit rules change often and it is important to use an experienced lender to help you get the job done in a timely manner.
The next step in the process is setting your criteria and starting to view homes. At any one time there are hundreds if not thousands of homes available in any given area. Believe me, you don’t have the time or the patience to see them all. The broadest categories in which to sort homes are: location, price and size. Your Realtor can narrow your search by using literally dozens of features but in the beginning it is best to keep it as broad as possible. A good practice is to look at a good cross-section of homes and then communicate your likes and dislikes with your Realtor. They will then be able to suggest other homes to see. When viewing homes it is easy to get overwhelmed by information overload. If you look at ten houses on a Saturday by the last few it is hard to remember if it was the second one or the fifth one that had the good view. I like to keep it to six or fewer. Take notes, ask questions and communicate your likes and dislikes.
Click here to view Part 2 which will take you from offer through closing. To get started call Neil Kearney at 303-818-4055