Preparing for the Hunt
By Shawna Sanders
In Part 1 of our Helpful Hints for First-Time Home Buyer series we covered the steps to getting your finances in order to prepare for the home buying process. But you’re not quite ready to begin the house hunt just yet. First, you’re going to need to find the people that can help you through this process, the professionals who know their fields and can use their experience and expertise to guide you through to the end of the process.
You may be thinking that finding the perfect home should come before finding a lender, and it can certainly work that way sometimes, but choosing a lender first puts you at an advantage over other house hunters who wait. By obtaining a pre-approval letter, you know exactly how much house you are able to purchase which will help you narrow down the field of potential homes. Having pre-approval from a local direct lender gives the seller, and their Realtor, confidence in you, that they won’t have to worry about a buyer who may not be able to actually close on the purchase. In addition, being pre-approved will speed along the closing process since the most time-consuming portion will already be complete.
Every lender will have a few minor differences in requirements, but generally, most will ask for financial records for the past two years. This includes proof of income and assets, employment verification, credit reports and various other documents. If you’ve followed our advice from Part 1 of this series, you should have no surprises come up during this step. You can review the required document list now.
When searching for a lender, not just anyone will do. For first-time home buyers, finding someone who embraces government loan programs is essential. There are many programs for first-timers with various requirements. A good lender will be well versed in these programs and in other local programs as well that can offer down payment and closing costs assistance. Richard Woodward of Service First Mortgage is ready to help you through this exciting step to owning your first home. To start your no cost consultation, click here.
While you may be tempted to just start looking at houses, a real estate agent can certainly make a big difference in helping you find your dream home. Finding an agent who is familiar with the area you’re looking to buy can be the most important choice in this whole process. You want someone who is going to look out for you as a buyer, someone who knows how to negotiate and close the deal. Just a note, thinking that contacting the listing agent directly will save you money is a misnomer. The listing agent is required to look out for the best interest of the seller, not the buyer.
Probably the best way to find a good agent is to ask your lender. Most good lenders will work with great Realtors, they know which Realtors might best benefit your needs. Another good resource is word of mouth. Ask your friends and family who they have used in the past and who they would recommend. Spending some time looking at reviews is another good way to find someone who will work well for you. Remember that this person will be working for you, so interview at least three agents to find someone who is knowledgeable about the area you are looking to buy, is willing to negotiate in your favor and whose personality is a good fit for you and your family. If you are in the DFW area, click here to find a few of our recommended suggestions.
Once you’ve found your agent, make sure you discuss with them just what you’re looking for in a home. Whether it’s living in a particular school district that is the most important to you or having the space to start that garden you’ve always wanted, your agent will do the work to find a home that checks all your boxes.
Now that your team of professionals has been assembled, the fun can begin! All of your preparation to this point will set you up for success in finding just the right house for you and your family. By preparing your finances early on, acquiring your pre approval and finding an agent that’s a good fit, you can focus on the hunt for the perfect home.