Buying a new home is scary – how much will it cost, can I get the house I want for my budget, what is my budget, where do I get started? Even if buying is months, or years off, there are productive steps you can take towards your goal. I find a lot clients waste time stalking real estate (because yes it’s fun!), but could actually be taking steps towards owning a home. We’ve outlined the 5 best uses of your time before buying.
1. Meet with a lender-now! You don’t have to wait until you’re ready to put an offer in to consult with a lender. A good lender will review your financial info, assess your credit score, and help create a path forward. A lot of clients have credit score issues that need some work, or haven’t saved for a downpayment. A lender helps focus your financial goals into a realistic timeline. We only partner with lenders who will take this time with our clients, and will honestly tell a client when is the best time for their personal situation to buy. If you need a recommendation for a good lender feel free to message us 🙂
2. Figure out the Financial. Finding your estimated pre-approval, along with monthly budget goals is key to finding your dream home. Your income, credit score, and debt will determine your pre-approval amount. The amount you can spend monthly will become your budget. These steps are essential to understanding your affordability within your market. Having met with a lender they would help you develop these, but you also want to consider what the future looks like for you and/or your family. If your buying a home with a partner or spouse, this can take some time to talk through. Some clients are set on very secure/set job and income, and some see huge swings. There is nothing worse than not defining where the line in the sand is with affordability. The last thing I want is clients looking at houses they cannot afford-it’s truly a lose lose situation.
3. Educate yourself on the process. I never want my clients to feel lost or be playing catch up during the home buying process. We have a lot of tools available to clients-check out our previous blogs here. I recommend a buyer’s consultation where you sit down with us and go through the entire process, focusing on how much money out of pocket you will need, and what are the timeline’s associated with buying. I usually encourage this as early as possible, in conjunction with the lender meeting. Don’t feel like meeting with us means we expect you to buy tomorrow. I’d much rather start the relationship early, get all the ground work laid out and be more prepared for when the time comes to buy. I am able to get a client pre-approved and ratified on a house within a matter of hours, but that level of stress is not necessary or fun. Start early and with a glass of wine- it will feel much more doable that way 🙂
4. Review inventory. This is obviously the most exciting and fun part about the home buying process. Starting this after you’ve figured out your monthly budget and pre-approval is MUCH more productive and realistic. Scrolling through houses that you can’t afford can set up the wrong expectations, causing clients to feel disappointed and frustrated. As you review inventory, request your lender to provide what is called a Good Faith Estimate (GFE), this will help make the process more real for you. A GFE will detail the amount of cash you’ll need to bring to the table, closing cost, taxes, etc along with your monthly mortgage for the exact property you are interested in.
5. Set Must Have’s. You might have an exact idea of what you want in a house, but as you look through inventory both in person and online, it’s important to note the must have’s or deal breakers. If you’re buying with a spouse I recommend fighting it out before you’re on a crunched timeline. If he won’t go for a house without a garage, then should you even consider those houses that don’t have that characteristic? Sometimes there is a huge gap between partner expectations, the earlier you start looking the better, so by the time you find the right property you’ve narrowed your focus. The actual process of looking at homes can be an evolution, don’t ever hesitate to reach out to your realtor if something peak’s your interest. I love looking at houses as much as you do 🙂
I actually feel that most client’s would have benefited from more time, and starting earlier. With a market that moves as quick as the DMV, it’s important to come prepared- check out my Spring Market blog for more info on that, but whenever you start it’s our goal to make the process as seamless as possible. Let us know if you’d like to get started-we’d love to grab a cup of coffee or drink to discuss 🙂