Thinking Of Buying a House This Year?
Did one of your new year resolutions include buying a house? That’s great! Congrats on wanting to move forward with buying a house. As always, first things first. The most important item of business is to get a pre-approval. Until you know exactly where you are at financially, how much you can afford and if there will be any hiccups in the process, you won’t be able to figure out your next step. Talk to a lender, any lender about buying a house. Just because you start with that lender or get a pre-approval from them does NOT mean that you have to use them. However, getting that initial approval will allow you to confidently take the next steps. You can always shop around while you are looking for a house. And, as always, your real estate agent will help in this area and get you going in the right direction.
Contact An Agent:
Now that you have the approval, you know how much you can afford, what’s next? Well the best next move is to contact a real estate agent to get going. It’s nice to look at homes online (Zillow, Realtor.com, etc), but those sites are not always the most accurate. The best place to get homes sent direct to your email is through the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). You can only sign up to get emails from the MLS through a real estate agent. The MLS is the go-to system for all real estate agents. It’s where all agent enter their listings and it’s where all listings are updated as statues’ change. All OTHER 3rd party sites (like Zillow & Realtor.com) pull all their information from the MLS. However all those 3rd party sites only update at certain times of the day and the information isn’t always pulled in correctly.
Benefits of the MLS:
The other benefit of getting set up on the MLS when buying a house is that the real estate agent will enter in your specific criteria. Therefore only houses in your price point and in the desired area(s) will be sent to you. This allows you to cut through all the listings and see what are actual options for you. Since the MLS is the most accurate and most up-to-date, you’ll be sure to see what options are available to you or miss a great potential that you may not otherwise see on other site. It’s pretty vital to get set up on the MLS if you are serious about buying a house.
I just had a great couple that I helped buy a house that commented on how much they didn’t realize they were missing out on when they weren’t getting the emails from the MLS. So don’t take it from me, take from real life buyers who have experience buying a house. The 3rd party sites are a great starting point, but it shouldn’t be your go-to when you start the actual process of buying a house.
Start The Home Shopping Process:
Once you are pre-approved and are set up on the MLS, it’s time to start going to look at houses. The one piece of advice that I have for first time home buyers is to keep an open mind. Remember, this isn’t your dream home, this is your first home! A starter home is just that, it’s a place to start building equity so that you can eventually upgrade to something bigger or in a different part of town. Be open to the area – a first time home buyer usually only stays in a home for 5 years. Also be open to the house itself. It may not be totally decked out in all the right finishes, but this is stuff you can do to increase the value of the home while you own it. Even if you have to buy something small and slightly out of date this will always put you in a better position than renting. So be open to options and remember this is a short term place. You can always upgrade!
Contact your agent to go look at houses:
To go look at homes you will contact your agent and let them know which homes you are interested in seeing. From there, the agent will schedule appointments to see the homes at a time that fits your schedule. Don’t expect to find your home within the first few times you go out looking. I always tell my buyers that the first few time out looking at houses is more like an introduction to what you can really get within an area and price point. Pictures can be very deceiving online – almost every buyer is surprised at how the homes they picked out (and were totally in love with) were completely different than reality. That’s another point, before you fall in love with a place and are convinced that is YOUR home, remember the home may not always be as it seems. That goes both way too. Don’t write off a house just because the pictures aren’t that great. If it has the basic amenities and it’s in the area you desire, it is always worth taking a look.
Finding a house that meets your needs:
Eventually you will find a house that fits your needs. So what happens then? You’ll make an offer. While this seems like a very scary thing – your agent will sit down and go over what an offer looks like and all the details of the contract. Ideally this is something that will be done prior to you making an offer so you know what to expect. However, there are times you won’t have this opportunity. Just know that any good agent will explain the process and take the time to answer all your questions. Your agent will also walk you through the entire process, we don’t expect you to know the process, but we do want you to understand it. So be sure to ask as many questions as you needed.
What’s Next: Once you make an offer…well that is a entirely new path. Look for my next post about the offer process!
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