The journey to homeownership can be time-consuming, draining and, frankly, aggravating. But with the right methodology, smart decisions and a knowledgeable real estate agent in your corner, it can be one of the most, if not the most, exhilarating experiences ever.
Figuring out how to buy a house is no small feat! Here are five simple steps and guides to great neighborhoods that you may want to call home: M Streets, Lake Highlands, Lakewood and Lower Greenville.
How to buy a house? Get a loan:
It’s easy to get excited when you are looking for your first home, but make sure you are looking wisely and within your means. Research loan officers; a real estate agent is a great resource for references, but utilize all of your channels (i.e. friends, co-workers, neighbors, family members).
Zach Kent of Prime Lending in the Lakewood neighborhood says: “Regardless of what you are qualified for, if your dream home comes along tomorrow, what are you comfortable paying on a monthly basis, all-in? (Principle, interest, taxes, insurance and homeowners’ association fees). This is important to make sure your fiscal goals line up with your mental price point.”
Finding an acceptable price range will save a lot of time by ensuring that you only look at homes that you might actually purchase. With pre-approval for a loan, you are in a position to not have to worry about losing your dream home to a more prepared buyer. A seller wants assurance that you, the buyer, can get a loan. Note: a pre-qualification letter is not a pre-approval letter, but rather a rough estimate of what your lender thinks you can qualify for after seeing a few of your financials. It does not carry the same weight with sellers as pre-approval.
How to buy a house? Interview and hire a real estate agent:
Find an agent that you are compatible with; this person will make or break your home buying experience. You can dedicate your weekends to open houses and use the copious online home buying apps, but ultimately none of that equates to the market experience of an agent. Agents can plug your search parameters into the MLS and send you listings as they hit the market and they are constantly hearing about properties not yet on the market or that are never going to be brought to market.
How to buy a house? Need vs. want:
Write down your parameters: neighborhoods, bed/bath count, square footage, etc. Revisit this list after you get a sense of the market because it will evolve as you start see houses and explore neighborhoods. Maybe you’ll find that you can’t get your desired square footage or rooftop patio where you’re looking and need to investigate other options. Communicate with your agent and see how your search needs to be adjusted. Is there a neighborhood that you should be considering where those features fall in your price point?
How to buy a house? Imagine yourself living in it.
When you walk through a home don’t obsess over how it is decorated. You aren’t buying a furnished home, so who cares if you think that ostentatious deer head on the wall is awful or the wallpaper looks like it should to be burned? Focus on the size and flow of the rooms. Is the kitchen right for your entertaining habits? Can you visualize yourself living here and enjoying it? On the other hand, if the place just doesn’t feel right, keep looking.
How to buy a house? Talk to neighbors
You’ve done your research to the tee, that neighborhood is the one you love it, but now you want to hear from someone who actually lives there. Find someone to talk to. Your agent can do the heavy lifting here, as they should be doing through the entire process. Maybe the elementary school is going to be important to you soon. A neighbor whose kids go there is a great resource. How is the school? Is it a close-knit community? How’s the neighborhood association? You may find a great house, but will you love where you are living? You’re buying more then a first home, you’re buying a new lifestyle, with new friends to follow.
Buying a home takes time. If you attempt to rush it, you’ll make yourself crazy and risk buying a house that you settled for just because it fell in your price range. A good agent doesn’t want to make a sale. They want to make a friend who will recommend them to others. A good agent has your best interests at heart and will make sure you find that dream home. It may take a while to find the one, but you’re dream home is out there. It only takes a little preparation and five simple steps to find it.
Happy house hunting from the Hartman-Terilli Team!