You’ve been flirting with the market for months, touring open houses on the weekend and logging in late night hours on Redfin or Zillow. You’ve pinpointed the ideal neighborhood that suits you best and have toured the schools in the district. You are ready to take the plunge and buy. What next? A few do’s:
1) Get a Realtor
A seasoned real estate agent can provide you with valuable insights on homes and neighborhoods during the search portion of your house hunt. And even with the proliferation of online real estate search engines, when the time comes to write an offer, you will need an experienced real estate professional on your side to navigate the negotiations, escrow and closing process with you. Over the years, the laws for home buying have become increasingly complex and the process is filled with many moving parts. Ask your trusted friends for quality agent referrals and find yourself a good teammate.
2) Get Preapproved for a Loan
Consulting a mortgage lender will help you get a clear picture of your purchasing power so make this step at the top of your list of to do’s. Understanding what you can afford from a lending perspective helps define your house search so you don’t waste time looking at homes you cannot afford. Plus, often the market moves fast on well-priced homes, so having a pre-approval letter in hand lines you up at the front of starting block.
3) Make A Checklist of “Must Haves” in a House
No two houses are the same and no house is ever 100% perfect, but having a checklist for your ideal home is useful so you are efficient in your house hunt. A house can always be redecorated to perfection but it’s a bigger headache if your new house is missing that home office you had hoped to have.
4) Check Your Credit
Your credit score helps lending institutions determine the rate and terms they can offer you on the loan. If your credit is high, meaning that your credit history indicates that you are fiscally responsible, lenders will see you as a low-risk investment and offer you a lower rate on your loan with good conditions. If your score is low, lenders will think you are a riskier investment and charge you with higher interest rates to take on the perceived risk. Get your credit scores from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three major credit agencies, so you can see how you stack up in terms of investment risk and see if you have time to improve your credit health.
Stay tuned next week for a list of pre-buying don’ts.