Homebuyers Guide: Tips For Getting Started With Your Search

Ok, this is a longer article than usual but only because it is SOOO important. There is a method to the madness of beginning your home purchase. After all, buying a home for the first time can be life-changing.  It’s a major investment, a major commitment, and oftentimes the start of a whole new phase of your life.  Newly married?  Buy a home.  New parents?  Buy a home.  Newly relocated?  Buy a home.  But like any major project or purchase, it is important to go into it with knowledge and proper preparation in place. Especially now!

Here are some top tips to help make the experience the best it can be:

Prepare Early
This means you should start saving well in advance of the actual purchase.  There are several costs to consider when saving and planning for a home purchase.  There is the down payment, closing costs, move-in expenses and more.  Your down payment will depend on the type of mortgage you chose, but even having a “small” down payment can still add up.  With closing costs, you’ll typically need to be prepared to pay 2-5% of the loan amount in these fees.  And move-in expenses can include things like home repairs, upgrades, and new furnishings.

Choose a real estate agent carefully
A lot of buyers start with finding a lender (more on that later), but finding the realtor first makes more sense. A good agent usually works with good lenders and can point you in the direction of one who can best help you. (They’re not all the same; trust me) In addition, your agent will scour the market for homes that meet your needs and they will help to guide you through the negotiation and closing process. But a REALLY good agent will ask you a ton of questions and get to the heart of what you’re truly looking for and get to know YOU.

Select a mortgage option and get pre-approved
A variety of mortgage options are available with varying down payment and eligibility requirements.  Some options include conventional, FHA loans, USDA loans, ARMs, and even VA loans. Make sure you know your options and the pros and cons of each one well in advance of beginning your search.  Compare mortgage rates and fees, and always look into any first-time buyer assistance programs that may be available to you.  Once you have selected the best mortgage option for you, it’s time to get a pre-approval letter.  You get this when you are ready to officially start shopping for a home and having this shows home sellers and agents that you are a serious buyer.

Start shopping
Once you’ve thoroughly gone over options with your realtor and lender, you’re ready to shop!

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