For many people, the thought of buying a home can be overwhelming; the key first steps are often overlooked. With the influx of TV shows depicting the process, along with access to information on sites such as Zillow, many home-buyers are unsure where to start. The confusion is added through friends and family who often feel, not just comfortable, but obligated to give their opinions.
If you are thinking about buying, there are two things that should happen right away.
· First, find a Real Estate agent that you trust.
You should look for somebody with experience, that has expertise in the area you are interested in. The first step in building trust and confidence with an agent is simple: have a conversation about your goals and time-frame.
This conversation may include topics such as: If you are in a lease, how much longer does it go? If you own your house, do you want or need to sell it first? Are you comfortable making double payments for a month or two if the right house comes along … There are many factors that may affect how soon you should start house-hunting. Taking the time in this first step to lay out expectations is crucial to a smooth process.
· Second, get pre-qualified.
Assuming that conversation goes well and you want to move the process forward, the next step is getting pre-qualified. This step can be done online or with a phone call and does not take very long. If you do not know any lenders, surely your Realtor will be able to refer you a few. You should check out a couple options as rates and fees can vary.
Once you are pre-qualified, it’s time to get serious! You should schedule a sit-down with your real estate agent - this is NOT a home buying trip - be prepared to discuss your goals, expectations and strategy! You should discuss a comfortable price range, the areas you are interested in, timing and your wants and needs list, by priority. Make sure if you have a spouse, significant other, or family member that is a part of the decision making, you are on the same page and have discussed these topics before your meeting.
This meeting is how you and your agent will develop the game plan for finding your new home. Only after these steps should you begin your home search. Your agent should also be explaining the process to you, if you are not familiar with it. Make sure you discuss items such as: what is earnest money? do you get to inspect the home? how do you know you are not paying too much? and what happens if you don’t qualify for some reason? You should leave this meeting confident you understand what’s next and excited to look at homes.
In my 20 years of experience skipping any of these steps can lead to frustration and misunderstanding between agent and client and even with our seasoned clients we still go through the same process if at all possible. You should now be well-equipped for Happy House Hunting!