By Chad Arend
The process of purchasing a home can certainly feel daunting, especially if it’s your first time. I always recommend that my clients break the process down, handle it step-by-step, and don’t wait until the last minute. A buyer with realistic expectations and an education on the process makes everything much smoother, resulting in a positive experience. The steps below would most likely be applicable whether you are a first-time buyer or own a home currently and are looking to upgrade/downsize.
First, check in with a mortgage broker or loan officer. Find a referral if available, as quality can unfortunately vary based on experience and knowledge of the lender. I recommend connecting with a lender as early as you can, even if your timeframe still feels distant. The loan officer can give you an accurate idea of what you’ll need when the time is ready. This includes paying off debt, saving more for a down payment, working to improve your credit score, etc. Knowing this is critical for financing, as sometimes it’s not what you’d expect – for example, in some cases, it may be wiser to save more cash rather than paying down your debt.
Second, establish a timeframe of when you want to move into your new house. This should be fairly easy for most. Do you have a lease expiring? Kids starting or getting out of school? You’ll want to work backwards from there. A typical closing takes 30-40 days from the time an offer is accepted. I usually find that most buyers shop around for one or two months for their new home. So, a good rule of thumb is to start actively shopping three months before you want to move in.
Next, you’ll want to have an idea of the general location you are targeting AND what the typical price points are in that area. Does the average price point match your budget? It’s easy to find range of pricing either from an agent (hopefully me!), and my site showing all homes for sale. You don’t necessarily need to be specifically shopping at this point, however targeting a general location you love will make it easier to narrow down and is typically the biggest factor in the buying process.
Now, you’re prepared to actually start shopping for homes when the time is ready. Establish your “must haves” and “would like to haves” and start using the website (www.thearendteam.com) to put together a saved search to start reviewing specific properties. Start broad to begin with so you get a sense of what you can get at your price point, and then begin to narrow it down from there. If there are too many results in your search, it’s sometimes just as hard to find the perfect home as if there’s very little inventory in your search parameters. Start making a list of the homes that catch your interest and schedule a time to tour them. This is the fun part! You can request a tour directly on my site or call me directly to set up an appointment.
Happy New Year, and Happy House Hunting!