Buying your home whether it’s your first or fifth time, it can be very stressful. With the following suggestions home buying and shopping should be much easier. First, get pre-approved for a loan. Notice I said pre-approved not, pre-qualified. They are actually very different. Pre-approval involves running your credit score and determining what a lender will actually give you, where pre-qualified can be done over the phone, internet, or in person and gives you more of a “best case scenario” often leaving buyers disappointed if their credit is not as stellar as they believe. Again, pre-approval lets you know with certainty what price range you can afford. Clients who qualify for rock bottom rates may be enthusiastic to find out that they can afford much more house than they thought. Unfortunately the opposite is usually true and finding a $150,000 house exciting after you’ve been looking at $250,000 homes can be disheartening.
Second, check out the listings on several sites. The reason I suggest multiple sites is because most, if not all the big sites are paid advertising meaning that smaller brokerage companies may not have forked over the money to advertise on every site.
Third, if you are serious about buying call a qualified agent that is associated with a reputable company. So how do you find either one of these? First, I suggest checking out the company or broker that you intent to do business with. A good company will have a strong web presence, as well as, a strong presence in physical advertising in your neighborhood (newspapers, yard signs, etc.). Finding out a company’s market share in your local area will also give you a good idea how successful a company is, though should not be the sole determination for your pick. A company that has a non-selling broker is also good to look for, since you the client will know your agent has support if needed. Now, how to find a good agent… That can actually be more difficult than finding a good company.
Find an agent who does it fulltime, part timers or moonlighters may know the laws, but are not working for you 24/7; real estate is also likely not their livelihood so they are likely to have a lower level of motivation for it. Next, you want to find an agent who is knowledgeable about his/her market. They should be able to answer basic questions such as: What is the average home price in my desired neighborhood? What percent of listing price are most homes selling for? How quickly are homes selling on average? Very important, but often overlooked is finding an agent with a personality that you could work with. Don’t hesitate to talk to a few agents over the phone before making a commitment.
Fourth, realize that unless your budget is limitless, you will NEVER get exactly what you want. Many aspects of a home can be changed easily. Things that cannot be changed so simply are size and location, location, location.
Fifth, get educated yourself on home ownership if you are a first time buyer. Classes can be found at your local community college, online, or in some cases are even required by some lenders.