Getting ready to buy a house(before you make an offer)
If you are a first time home buyer or even looking for good homes for investment purposes, the home buying process can be time-consuming and sometimes a little daunting. However, getting organized will make the home buying a lot easier.
Here are the steps you should follow:
#1 Pre-approval- First and foremost talk to your lender about the type of loan and the dollar amount you can get approved. The goal is to get a “pre-approval” letter from your lender and to know how much house you can afford. This means they have researched your financial records and with a high level of confidence believe you will qualify for a loan at a certain dollar amount. However, this does not mean you can’t be turned down later for the loan. Once you go into a contract for a specific house, there are many levels of approval that will need to take place. A pre-approval is just the first step but a very important one. It shows your seller there is a good chance you will be able to complete the sale. You might have also heard of a “pre-qualified letter”. It just means you have sat down with your lending and have given him your financial numbers. He puts these numbers in a computer program that can tell you what you can afford to buy. No documentation to back it up. Better than having nothing but not as good as a pre-approval letter. If you do go into contact with a seller, don’t be surprised if he wants you to give him a pre-approval letter within a specific timeframe. Also, some sellers won’t consider your offer with only a pre-qualified letter.
#2 Create your home buying criteria- Ok, so now you know how much you can afford. Now what?
You would be surprised how many people start looking for a house to buy without knowing what features are important to them. Furthermore, couples need to make sure they are on the same page. One person might want a house with a big back yard for their dog and their spouse might want very little lawn to reduce the maintenance:
Number of bedrooms
Number of bathrooms
Number of stories
Size of the house
Size of the lot
#3 Start looking at houses online and in-person- It is a good time to be a home buyer. Prospective owners have lots of resources to help their search. The days of an agent driving buyers around all day are gone. At some point, you will need your agent to help you get inside the house and to help you structure your offer. Until then, use the many resources available to search for properties. At the home page of this web site, we offer a way for you to search the MLS. I also highly recommend you drive neighborhoods that you are considering. There is nothing like looking at the houses in that neighborhood first hand to get a good feel for the surroundings. Lastly, go to as many open house events as possible. Your agent will be able to give you a list of open houses in your area.
In my next blog posting, I will be exploring the steps to making an offer on a house. Until then, please post your thoughts to this blog as well as ideas you have getting yourself ready to make an offer on a house.