Whether you are a first time home buyer, relocating or getting ready to upsize/downsize there are things you need to know to help you have a smoother, less stressful buying experience. For some this will be a nice review, for others this will be essential information to help you through the process.
The first thing you must do is establish a time frame for the purchase to be completed and for you to be in your new home. Everything works back from there. Do you have a home to sell first? Is your employer relocating you by a certain date? Do you need to pay attention to the school year? How long will it take you to pack up and move? Also consider that under the new Federal lending laws, it may take up to 60 days from the acceptance of the offer to the actual closing when financing a property.
Next, check your credit report and score. Unless you are paying cash, a lender will do this anyway so it is better that you find out about any incorrect information that the credit report contains so you can get it fixed prior to applying for a loan.
Calculate how much home you can afford. You will need cash for the down payment, closing costs, and inspections. Also consider how much taxes and insurance will add to your monthly payment plus normal upkeep and maintenance. Don’t forget about those moving costs!
Once you know how much you can afford, determine the must have NEEDS of your new home. For example, if you have two children, a boy and a girl, you will probably need at least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Next, determine what things you WANT to have that will make you happy. Finally, if there is room in the budget, determine the extras that would put a house over the top.
Next, get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. The difference between pre-qualified and pre-approval is simple: Pre-qualification simply means that you appear to have the right qualifications to get a home loan but further investigation is needed. Pre-approval is a lender telling you in writing that they will lend you a certain amount of money to purchase a home as long as everything remains the same and you provide any documents they need. You should always keep a copy of the pre-approval letter as most sellers will want to see that as proof you can actually buy the home on which you are making an offer .
Once you know what you want in your new home and you know how much money you have to work with, consider the location. What location gives you the life style you want to live. Is the new location a place that provides the things you need, such as employment, schools, shopping, and recreation. Don’t forget about the weather! Florida is known for the wonderful climate but it does get hot and humid in the summer. Being able to take advantage of the Gulf of Mexico with it’s cooling sea breezes, beautiful water and beaches makes hot weather much more tolerable. Taking an early evening swim after a hard, hectic day of work is a wonderful stress reliever. Also consider how close you will be to other major entertainment outlets you may want to take advantage of.
Now, and most importantly, find a LOCAL real estate agent to help you in your home buying adventure. Real estate is local in nature so using a local agent that knows the area and market is a huge advantage. You may have seen a beautiful home on the internet but you will still need to have a local agent take you to the property for a close up look. You will want to pay particular attention to the surrounding properties, sometimes not so good neighbors are purposely left off those pretty internet pictures. Remember, the listing agent has a signed contract to work for the seller to get the property sold and that is their focus, not you the buyer. Using an agent whose primary focus is working with buyers can provide expertise in the process and give you undivided attention to your wants and needs. As a buyer, normally you pay no commission to the agent you use, they are compensated by the listing broker. Also make sure the agent has time for you and is not trying to juggle several customers all at once. Be sure they can be available to you on a minute’s notice which is especially important now as good properties do not stay on the market very long. You will need to be ready to place an offer immediately when you find that special place you have been looking for.
If you have questions about the home buying process or anything in general about real estate, give me a call or send me an email. I can work with you on all facets of the process. You have the right to work with any real estate agent you choose, just make sure you get to know them, that you like them and that you trust them.