Today at the credit union, the teller asked if I had any advice or professional tips for her while buying her first house. It is a pretty straightforward question that I have answered many times over my career. However, this particular time I found myself giving different answers than in past years.
Most importantly, start by getting pre-approved by a lender for a mortgage. Don’t do this with just any online mortgage lender, or the bank that hosts your checking account. Choose a mortgage professional that will actually look at your income, debts, and history and will talk to you about your financial goals. While it may be a nerve-racking endeavor, and not as easy as putting your social security number in a webpage, the entire mortgage pre-approval process will ultimately dictate your success at buying a home. They will be able to give you all the options for which you qualify, maybe even gauging your down-payment amount and realizing your only option would be an FHA loan, or a down-payment assistance program. It’s important to have all the information in front of you-knowing what you can and cannot afford, what kinds of loans you may use, so that you look like a favorable, well-informed buyer who can make a lucrative offer on the house of your dreams.
Next, you should really concentrate on the school district in the area where you are looking. Many people without school-age children often will often ignore the quality of the school district because it does not directly impact them. Finding a lower-priced home or paying less in property taxes is very tempting, but you will pay for it in future appreciation and/or if your future plans change and you stay. Stronger districts tend to have better home value appreciation than their neighboring districts. This is due primarily to the increased demand these areas have historically in both seller and buyer’s markets. Many people stay in their homes longer than expected because of various reasons: interest rates become too high to sell and get a new mortgage, credit changes, employment transitions, a drop in property values, or you just really like your house/neighborhood and you do not want to move. Whatever the reason, the school district now is a big deal. Make this a priority when searching.
Finally, this is more specific to our current market, be aggressive and make sure your agent is aggressive. Homes are selling at a pace that is difficult to navigate, even with a trained professional. If you see a house you like, get into that home as quickly as possible, and be ready to make an offer when you walk out. There could potentially be five offers on that house in the first day, all of which will be close to list price (if not over). If your current situation requires FHA, down-payment assistance, or seller’s concessions, they will require you to be fast with your offer and be extremely competitive in things like offer price, seller occupancy, and fast timing of your home inspection.
There are plenty more we can talk about when you are ready to buy your first or 100th home.
Send me a message or call me when you are ready to begin the process.