Thinking about buying a home this spring? Perhaps your family is growing and you need another bedroom. Or maybe you’re planning to downsize as the kids go off to college. Either way, it’s important to be an informed and well prepared home buyer.
Establish Your Budget
Start by having a clear understanding of what you can afford. Many buyers focus on the price. But unless you’re paying the full amount in cash the actual price isn’t as tangible as your monthly payment. Your monthly payment (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance – PITI) is what you actually feel every month. Your REALTOR® and lender can help you work backwards to arrive at a purchase price that achieves that monthly payment.
Talk To A Lender
Work with a reputable lender to validate your financial qualifications, finalize budget, and ensure that there are no credit score surprises. Also, lenders can help you identify the right loan program. For example, does it make sense to get a 30 year mortgage if you’re going to be in the new house for only 5 years? Most lenders can walk you through the process in about 20 minutes by phone. Obtain a “pre- approval” letter from the lender after the conversation. Including a pre-approval letter with your offer has become a standard expectation. Many sellers won’t consider offers that don’t include a pre-approval letter.
Determine Your Criteria
Start developing a list of must-haves and nice-to haves. Try to keep your criteria as broad as possible. There are no perfect homes so be ready to compromise. Think about your tolerance for doing renovations or adding-on to create your vision.
Select A REALTOR®
House hunting can be emotional. Transactions can be complicated. Negotiations can get heated. Identify someone that is both technically skilled and has the temperament to keep everyone calm and focused. The best real estate agents are market experts, good teachers, strong communicators, skilled negotiators, compassionate hand-holders, and always protective of your interests.
Always take the time you need to make a good decision. However, once you make the decision to proceed, act quickly. We live in a very competitive real estate market. I’ve represented clients that were in competition with 13 other buyers! Yikes. Getting there first and acting fast gives you a distinct advantage.
Buying a new home is a major life decision. Being prepared and working with good people will make it a fun and rewarding.