I get asked by first time home buyers all the time, “How do I get started?” Buying your first home can be confusing and seem overly complicated. With a little help from qualified professionals the process is a lot easier. A qualified Realtor can be a big help in this sometimes long and confusing process.
I usually ask buyers to start by talking to a couple of different loan officers to see what you qualify for, and which bank will give you the best deal. Loan programs and underwriting standards vary from bank to bank, so don’t be afraid to see who is the best fit for you. If you do not have a loan officer, your agent should have a list of quality loan officers they have worked with in the past.
Once you have an idea of your budget, you need to sit down and prioritize what is most home features are most important to you. Do you want something to fix up or move in ready? Are you more concerned with price or location? Number of bedrooms or kitchen size? Once you have your list of priorities and needs, versus just wants, you are ready to start looking at houses. Online pictures are great but can be deceiving and nothing beats seeing it in person.
Your real estate agent can take your list of wants and needs, coupled with your budget, and provide you with several options to view. This part is exciting, but also can be a little tricky to keep all the houses straight. I always recommend to my clients to keep it simple, have one favorite and compare all the homes you view to your favorite. If you like the new home better, you have a new favorite. If not, fold up the listing sheet and move on to the next home. Once you find a house you like, the real fun begins! It starts with an offer to purchase, and a negotiation on price and terms. Many houses are lost in this process, the longer the negotiations go on, the greater the chance of another offer coming into the picture. I have had clients lose out on a half-dozen or more houses just because of drawn out negotiations. This goes back to your priorities, the house or the deal. As long as you have that strait you, will be fine.
After the price and other terms are agreed upon, there is a lot of paperwork between the real estate contract to the home loan process. Understand, there will be a lot of it, and try to get the requested documents back to your agent and loan officer as soon as possible.
I always recommend a good home inspection to look for potential issues. By finding any unknown, and difficult to see problems with the home, you can potentially avoid making a purchase that will require a big money repair in the near future.
Once you have applied for your home loan, there are several things to avoid doing. Do not change jobs, or buy new furniture for the home. Ask your loan officer before any big purchases, do not take out any additional lines of credit or credit cards. The last thing you want to do is lower your credit score before closing on your new home.
The best advise is to be patient, and work with a good loan officer and real estate agent. The agent and loan officer are their to help you, as they have been through this process many times and will be your best resource.