Are you thinking about purchasing a home? That’s great! Here are some tips to help you make one of the most significant financial decisions of your life.
1. Ensure your finances are in order
Many homeowners finance their home purchases through lenders including banks, credit unions and mortgage lenders. When financing your mortgage, all of these lenders will pull your credit report. It is your job to ensure your report is free and clear of any negative items before starting the buying process. You also will want to consider the different loan options and the associated down payment costs.
2. Obtain prequalification from lender
Once your finances are in order, you can schedule a meeting with your lender or lenders when choosing the best option for your needs. You can prepare a file of the following documents to aid in the pre-qualifying process.
• Financial statements
• Bank account information
• Investment information
• Credit card information
• Auto loan information
• Recent pay stubs
• Tax returns for the last two years
• 401K statements, stocks, bonds, life insurance and mutual account information
3. Choose an agent
Not just any real estate agent will work. You need an advocate or expert in your corner ready to help you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life. The right agent can navigate the complex process of purchasing a property and complete all necessary paperwork. Look for these qualities when selecting an agent.
• Experience – A full-time agent has the experience in completing similar transactions to the one you are wishing to make.
• Credentials – Interview a few agents and ask them about their credentials. An excellent agent constantly strives to improve their knowledge of the latest real estate trends and should hold the highest designations in their respective fields.
• Timeliness – You want an agent who returns your emails and calls promptly. Someone who is always ready and willing to answer your every question.
• Attentive – This goes hand-in-hand with timeliness. You want an agent who listens to your needs, interests and concerns. One whom you are comfortable working with through the entire process.
• Excellent references – A list of recent properties sold by the agent can be very helpful. You can also ask for a list of references and see what others experiences have been like with a particular agent.
4. Shop around
After you have completed the preparations and gotten your ducks in a row, it’s time to start looking for your dream home. Go for a drive and explore which neighborhoods, complexes and/or subdivisions attract your attention. This also provides a great opportunity to get a feel for the properties available in your preferred areas which helps you to narrow your search. Once you have a list of properties that interest you can have your agent set up the appointments to visit them. Providing a list to your agent also helps them research the current and long term value of the properties. Also, the agent will help you craft an offer that sellers will accept giving you an advantage over other offers.
5. Understand the purchase agreement
The purchase agreement is a legal arrangement between a potential buyer and the property’s owner or seller. To streamline the process, it is best to keep records of everything and to stick to a pre-determined schedule. The agreement also contains information regarding inspections and appraisals.