I built my business off of helping people buy their first homes. As my business has grown, I have had opportunities to work on many different kinds of transactions, but first time buyers are still my favorite. Whether it’s a young couple moving into the next chapter of their lives or someone who never thought homeownership was a possibility for them, when my clients are handed the keys to their first home I truly wonder how I got so lucky that this is my job.
It takes a special set of skills to help first time buyers. I mean buying a house is a big deal and people have lots of questions the first time they do it! It can be a difficult and emotional process and the agent needs to make sure that the buyer is comfortable and understands each step of the process. While I can’t adequately guide you through the home buying journey in one blog post, below I outline the steps you should be taking if you’re preparing to buy a house.
Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage
First thing’s first, get pre-approved with a qualified lender. Even if you think you have a good idea of the price range you’re looking in, you want to have the finances nailed down prior to beginning your search. For a lot of people this feels like the most intimidating part, but it’s really pretty painless. Even if your finances aren’t quite ready yet, the loan officer can advise you and guide you through the process until they are.
I usually recommend engaging a lender that works for a mortgage company and not a bank. While both options have pros and cons large banks tend often don’t give you the quality or speed of service provided by smaller companies dedicated to mortgage lending.
Don’t be afraid to meet with a few lenders, not only to shop rates, but to find someone you feel comfortable working with. While applying for a pre-approval is a hard pull on your credit, you will only be dinged once within a 60 day period. The credit bureaus don’t want to punish people for shopping around (same is true of car loans).
The loan officer will walk you through all of the costs associated with a purchase and give you estimated payments. They can also talk with you about down payment assistance.
Click here for a list of documentation you should prepare for a pre-approval.
Click here to send me a message if you’d like a list of great loan officers I work with.
Engage a Trusted Realtor
Once you’re pre-approved you will want to begin to narrow down your search. A Realtor can help you to start making you list of “must haves” and “deal breakers”. They can also provide location based expertise.
When you’re ready to look for a Realtor, make sure it’s someone you feel like you can trust and that you click with. Buying property can be a long and stressful process and you want to make sure you like the person that is going to help guide you through that. You also want to make sure they have the knowledge necessary to help you have a smooth and successful transaction. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or even ask for references.
When you have gotten that nailed down, your Realtor will be able to set up an automated search for you on the MLS (multiple listing service). They will take you basic criteria (min. beds, baths, neighborhoods, etc.) and enter it into an automated search. You will get a notification anytime a house matching that criteria becomes active. You will also have access to a portal containing all active homes that meet your need. This will always be the most up to date info and is a far better tool than many 3rd party sites (ahem:: Zillow). When you see a house you’re interested in, simply contact your Realtor to set up a showing.
Define Your Timeline
From having an accepted offer on a house to closing is typically 45-60 days. Depending on tastes, criteria and speed of the market, my clients average 3-8 weeks to find and get an accepted purchase agreement on a home. So you can expect it to take between 2.5 and 4 months from the time you start searching in earnest to actually having the keys. You can also add a few weeks to interview lenders and obtain a pre-approval.
Take a look at your timeline! If you are planning to buy in the Spring, it’s time get the ball rolling! It’s never too early to talk to a Realtor or a Mortgage Professional about prepping to buy.
If you have any further questions or you want to set up a time to meet and chat, click here to send me a message.