February 9, 2023
1. Find a Trusted Realtor
Finding a trusted and knowledgable realtor is extremely important. It is crucial to find someone who always has your best interests at heart, is knowledgable about your areas of interest and understands the current real estate market. The real estate market is constantly shifting, especially within the last three years. It is crucial to work with a realtor who is aware of the current market so you do not over or under bid on a potential house. During the house hunting and escrow process, it is not uncommon for bumps to arise and for negotiations to be had. A realtor should kindly and skillfully guide you through the entire home buying process and should always negotiate with your best interests at the forefront of every transaction.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Getting pre-approved by a trusted lender is one of the most important steps before embarking on your house hunting journey. In order to get pre-approved for a mortgage, lenders must assess a variety of financial records so they can determine the maximum loan amount for your home purchase. Lenders must assess proof of employment, verified assets, income tax returns and credit scores. Once these documents have been assessed by your lender, they will discuss loan options, mortgage rates, and budgeting. They will then provide you with a pre-approval letter, which will be included in all offers you and your realtor submit. Most sellers and listing agents will not seriously consider any offer without a pre-approval letter because these letters verify that you can, indeed, afford to purchase the house for the amount you have offered.
3. Create a List of Needs, Wants and Non-Negotiables
Before house hunting, it is extremely helpful to have a solid understanding of what you are looking for in your new home. Factors to consider include the bedroom and bathroom count, interior square footage, lot size, backyard amenities, and house style. The factors you need and definitely do not want are considered non-negotiables. These give your realtor guidance when suggesting which houses to tour. Non-negotiable factors should be considered while keeping your loan approval amount in mind so that you set realistic expectations for yourself and your budget. Once you decide which favors you need in a home, the next step is to decide which factors would be nice to have in your new home, but are not completely necessary. It is also important to narrow down what items you definitely do not want in a home. Some people only want move-in ready homes with very minimal work to be done. Many people do not want a home on a busy street or traffic-ridden intersection. When narrowing down what you do and do not want in a home, your criteria becomes much clearer for both you and your realtor.
4. Narrow Down Areas of Interest
When deciding what you do and do not want in a home, it is also important to narrow down specific areas and neighborhoods of interest. Common deciding factors include the neighborhood’s safety, proximity to work and family, desired school districts, potential equity growth, and walkability. It is difficult to begin house hunting if you have no idea where you would like to live. If you do not have a clear picture of where you want to move, your realtor can help narrow down areas of interest based on your criteria, short-term and long-term desires.
5. Start Touring Houses
Once you have found a realtor, been pre-approved, and have narrowed down your desired criteria and areas of interest, it is time to begin touring homes! Your realtor will set up an online home search with houses tailored to your criteria so you never miss a new listing. Your realtor will also help organize home tours so you can see several houses in one day. Every house you tour provides you with crucial information - either it solidifies what you do want in a home or it solidifies what you don’t want in a home. Every house and every neighborhood you tour provides you with more information to consider during the house hunting process. Maybe you thought you wanted a move-in ready home at your maximum loan amount, but now you can see the potential in a fixer-upper below your budget. Maybe you originally thought you definitely wanted a pool, but now you prefer a large grassy yard for your children or dogs to roam around carefree. Sometimes house hunting takes a few weeks. Sometimes it takes several months to a year. It is important to remain hopeful and realistic throughout the process. With a trusted realtor by your side, what is meant to be, will be!
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