The summer housing market is upon us! Houses are beginning to fly off the market and it is getting busier and busier. Whether you are a first-time home buyer or looking to buy that lake cabin up north, it is more important than ever to be prepared to buy.
If you are new to this process, you will quickly find out that if you are not pre-qualified and ready to place an offer on a home, you are likely to lose out on the house that caught your eye. Sellers are looking to get their houses off the market quickly, and if you are not completely ready to buy, you will be overlooked. Here are the simple steps you can take in order to be prepared to purchase.
Research your market
The first step in your home-buying preparation process is to learn about your market. There are a few important questions that you can ask to give yourself a good understanding of what is around you. What areas in your community are you interested in living in? Within those areas, how many and what kinds of homes are for sale? How long are homes staying on the market in this area? The most important thing: watch your market. Daily check-ins on sites like Zillow will give you an understanding of how your market is moving and interacting.
Determine your budget
This might be the most important step in the home-buying process. As you prepare to buy, take a deep dive into your current financial situation and begin to develop a budget for your home purchase. Look at how much you plan to put down on your home and what an affordable mortgage payment would be. When going through the next step (pre-qualification), a helpful mortgage lender might be able to provide some insight into what your price range should be for this purchase. If you are looking for tips to build your budget, this article from Money.com offers some good suggestions for determining what you can afford.
Get pre-qualified for credit from a bank
Pre-qualification involves supplying a bank or lender with your overall financial picture, including your debt, income, and assets. The lender reviews everything and gives you an estimate of how much you can expect to borrow. Similar to a real estate agent, a mortgage lender will be a partner for you throughout this entire process. From pre-qualification to closing, the lender will be involved with almost everything. This is why it is important for buyers to find a lender that they trust. My advice, don’t make a decision based solely on rate. “Rate chasing” might lead you to a lending partner that doesn’t meet your needs. Just as you research a real estate agent, you should research the bank and representative who will be your lending partner throughout this process. Another important consideration is that not all banks offer all the products that are available. Don’t be discouraged if you call a few banks before finding one that offers a loan program that’s in your best interest.
Find a realtor
Find someone that you can entrust with your home search. Finding a realtor who values your partnership is tremendously important. You may already have a personal relationship with a realtor in your community, if so – great! If not, ask friends, co-workers or relatives who they have worked with and get their perspective. Testimony from a prior client will help you get perspective on what kind of partner this realtor will be in your home-buying process.
Go find your next home
The tough part is over! You have researched your market, you have a good understanding of your price range, you’ve found a mortgage lender who is going to be a partner, and you have enlisted a real estate agent who is going to work tirelessly to get you into your dream home. Phew, that feels good, right!? Now go find your next home sweet home!