Buying a home is an easy process if you work with a professional real estate agent. If you are like many who currently are renting their homes, you may have already taken the first step to home ownership by becoming educated about the process by searching real estate listings or by reading articles about how to buy a home in magazines or on the internet. You may also have talked to friends and relatives about their experiences. Working with a trained and experienced agent up front can save you a considerable amount of time and help to alleviate any fears or concerns you may have about making that new home purchase.
When meeting with a real estate agent, he or she should be able to show you within a short period of time how to get approval for a loan, identify the type of properties you are looking for, and how to choose the property that is best for you. During that meeting, be sure that you are comfortable and able to get along with your agent since you will be working with that agent for some time. If you don’t have a good feeling about the agent during your first or subsequent meetings, it would be a good idea to try to find someone else.
Coming up with a down payment and finding a loan that meets your needs is usually the first hurdle you will face as you start your search for a new home. Your agent is the best source of information when it comes to finding the information you need to get started with the process. There are a plethora of materials out there in the newspapers, internet, and magazines about home loans. There are advertisements galore on television from companies that want to loan you money to buy a home. Even your bank will give you information about a home loan. Rather than attempting to navigate all of those materials, you may allow your agent to refer you to one or more real estate mortgage loan brokers who can help to find you just the right loan with the right terms and interest rate to meet your needs. The best part of this process is that you don’t have to give all your personal information to more than one person and your credit will only be viewed one time so your credit score will not be hurt by multiple reviews. Whether you are a new or first time home buyer there are many good programs out there for all types of income, credit, and down payments.
One of the first mistakes home buyers make is trying to search for homes before they have started the loan qualification process. Starting your search before you have a loan qualification can result in disappointment if you find out later that the home you want is out of reach. Sticking to the process and getting a loan qualification will help you determine upfront how much home you can reasonably afford. Therefore, when you meet for the first time, it would be helpful if you have already gathered most of the necessary materials to help make the loan process easier. Having these documents in hand when you meet shows the agent that you are serious about buying a home and able to quickly provide the necessary information to get approved.
When you meet, you should be prepared to show recent paycheck stubs to verify income; a complete list of credit cards, auto and other consumer loans and payments you make on those accounts each month. You will also need copies of your most recent bank statements. If you have IRA’s or a 401(k) or significant money saved in other investment accounts, you should be prepared to show those statements as well. Ultimately this information will need to be given to the mortgage broker. If you have had any credit problems such as bankruptcy, late payments or collections, it is not the end of the world. It is better to disclose these problems up front to help minimize any problems later down the road. Both your agent and mortgage broker may be able to suggest ways to eliminate any negative items credit report that could keep you from obtaining a loan.
If it turns out that your credit restricts or completely prevents you from obtaining a loan from traditional sources, your agent may be able to find you a motivated seller who would be happy to assist you in purchase their home by carrying a first or second mortgage loan or by selling you the home under a lease to purchase agreement. There are many creative ways your agent can help you to purchase your home if conventional financing methods are not an option. You should be sure to consult with your agent about these options and let him or her work out the details of this kind of purchase as it is complicated and requires careful consideration.
When you have completed the loan qualification process, it’s time to move on to deciding what kind of home you are looking for. You’ll want to discuss with your agent things like location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and other items like whether there is a pool or a fenced yard. Another important thing to discuss is the type of features you are looking for in a home. Do you want hardwood or tile floors? How important are up to date kitchen and bathrooms? Do you need or want a garage? Homes that need updating or renovations can often be purchased at a good discount, but the work and time needed to update a home can be a big commitment. When you have reviewed all this information with your agent, he or she will then begin to search for properties that best meet your criteria. When your agent has identified some properties that they think meet your objectives and needs, you will need to allocate some time to see the homes so that you can select the one that best suits you.
When you start to view homes, you will see homes in all sorts of condition. Preferably your agent wants to show you homes that are vacant, neat and clean. These homes are easier to show and it is often times less difficult for you to determine if you can picture yourself living in that home. However, you will definitely encounter homes that are messy, cluttered, furnished, decorated, or unclean. While difficult to look at, it is important to look beyond all of that and use some creativity to imagine what you could do with the house once it is yours. Remember, you are buying the house, not poor decorating decisions.
The hardest thing to do is view a home where the owner or occupants are present when you see it. Most people feel uncomfortable critiquing someone else’s home when they are present. If you feel strongly about the house, it is okay to tell your agent about items you have concerns about and he or she will coach you on the best way to provide feedback without feeling uncomfortable.
Sooner or later you will have to make a decision about the home you want to purchase. And, if you have been candid with your agent about the things you like or don’t like, and provided good criteria for the things you are looking for, your agent can make the final steps of completing your your purchase smooth and easy.
If you have any questions about buying or selling a home, or have any comments about this article, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me at Stephen@gowithstephensnow.com.
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