Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home
- Pre-Approval: With Pre-Approval, the buyer applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually allow you to pay them when you close your loan.
- List of Needs & Wants: Create 2 lists. The first should include items you need (for example, the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list includes your desires, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. For first-time buyers, you possibly may not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
- Professional Representation: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.
- Focus & Organization: Keep the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts nearby. Such items may include:
- Detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
- A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have seen from the newspaper.
- Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search.
- Video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending multiple showings.
- Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, and freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?
- Imagine the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms set up to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
- Be Objective: Instead of thinking emotionally when you find a home, think with rationally. Does this home meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don’t make a rushed decision that you may regret later.
- Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now can save you large expenses later on. Don’t forget essentials such as:
- Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
- Have a professional inspector inspect the property.
- Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
- Checks to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (for example, a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
All the above may seem overwhelming. That is why having a professional real estate agent represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please feel free to email me or call me directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.