Steps to Take Before Buying a Home
Whether you are a first time home buyer or getting back into the market, the home buying process can bring unexpected events. When buying a home, if you have clear expectations and goals, the process will be much smoother. You may be eager to find your home but taking steps to prepare for your search will only pay off in the end.
Here are the steps to take before you begin your home search:
1) Hire a real estate agent. We strongly recommend finding an experienced, professional real estate agent who lives and works in the South Bay. Having professional and personal knowledge of the area will help the agent write a qualified and competitive offer. You will be working closely with your realtor and will be potentially sharing very personal information so you want to feel comfortable with your agent. You need to trust your realtor. He/she will be representing one of the biggest purchases in your life and will be ensuring you are protected for years to come.
2) Choose a mortgage broker. If you don’t have a personal connection to a lender/broker, we suggest leaning into your agent’s referral. Remember, your mortgage broker will be an essential team member in helping you move into your home. Real estate agents know brokers who help the transaction, do what they say they will do, and support the process. A good mortgage broker is vital to your buying process. Again, choose someone who is a full time, experienced broker and you trust revealing ALL of your financial status to.
3) Get pre-qualified or pre-approved. When writing an offer your real estate agent will want to present the cleanest, most competitive offer. Part of a strong offer is including either a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter. Ideally, you would like to have a pre-APPROVAL letter from your lender. A pre-approval is much more valuable. It means your lender has checked your credit and verified your documentation to approve a loan up to a specific amount. A pre-QUALIFICATION is an estimate of how much you can afford and not a guarantee.
**As a note, most professional, experienced real estate agents will start showing you properties once you have a pre-qualification letter. No one wants to waste time. With a realistic purchase price, your realtor can create a search for you that will be specific to your needs and wants. This saves you time!
4) Start driving areas. While you are interviewing real estate agents, mortgage brokers and getting pre-qualified/pre-approved, start driving in neighborhoods you would like to live in. Drive by the areas at different times of the day. Notice the overall neighborhood feel including traffic, neighborhood noise, parking, etc. As you are driving the areas make a list of important features for your future home. Decide what you must have, what is optional, and what are dream features. Start creating a mental picture of your home. Questions to ask yourself would be:
How many bedrooms do I want?
How many bathrooms?
Do I want a backyard
Does the home need to be turn key?
Can I manage minor repair work?
Am I up to major renovations?
What location features are important to me?
As you are visualizing your perfect home, remember, most buyers purchase a home with 80% of what they are looking for, 10% of things they will change and 10% of things they can live with.
5) Customize your search. Once you have hired your real estate agent, mortgage broker, driven through neighborhoods, started to visualize your home, and, at minimum, received a pre-qualification for a loan, it is time to share your dream home checklist with your agent. Your agent will refine your search based on highest purchase price you are comfortable paying, location(s), number of bedrooms and bathrooms and any other important factors.
Once your search is customized, your agent will be actively looking for your home. Start checking your emails and get ready to preview homes. If you see a house you are interested in, reach out to your agent if he/she hasn’t already contacted you.
Happy searching. Enjoy the process, you are close to finding your new home!