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Ready To Purchase Your Next Home Five Key Steps To Help You Get Started
Do a little “homework”--Although online research can never take the place of an experienced Realtor, it is a great way to get started. You can compare mortgage rates, get a rough idea about what you can afford using mortgage calculators, find out approximate home values in your areas of interest, research schools, learn about many of the features of the communities you are considering and much more just by doing a few quick web searches. Having a basic understanding in these areas will not only help you save time, but also enables you to ask informed questions of those who will help guide you through the process.
Make a short list--Once you have a rough idea of the area you want to be in and approximately what you can afford, write down your must have features, followed by your (highly) desired features and finally the ones that would be nice if you were able to afford them. If you have a spouse or partner, make separate lists but then compare and try to consolidate them, whenever possible. As you compile this list, try to be fairly realistic about your budget constraints. Since almost no one has an unlimited budget, knowing what you can and can’t compromise on will save you a lot of frustration when it comes time to tour homes. When the budget absolutely doesn’t match the must-have features, considering another area can be helpful as well.
Ask questions--Talk to real people. Do you know anyone that has been through the process before? Ask your friends and family members what they think. Their general experiences can be helpful when it comes to professional recommendations, area research and avoiding mistakes they may have made personally. Of course, you also want to talk with the mortgage and real estate professionals you are considering partnering with as well. Since you have already done a little legwork, you are prepared to ask them intuitive questions about the process and their qualifications.
Mortgage prequalification--Whether you are purchasing a home for the first time, or an experienced home buyer, this is probably one of the most crucial steps. Quite often, the most financially qualified buyers assume (and rightfully so) that they can get a loan from just about anyone. In our current Bay Area market, homes can move so quickly, they may very well be sold in the time it takes to get a pre-qualification letter. Conversely, entry level buyers need to know exactly how much they can qualify for before they spend countless hours searching for their dream home, only to discover the disappointing reality that they simply can’t afford to purchase the property they just fell in love with.
Get yourself a good Realtor-- In most cases, having a dedicated buyer’s agent costs you nothing. Not having one at all or having the wrong one can cost you plenty. So how will you know when you’ve found the right agent? By asking more questions of course! How long have they been in real estate? Do they work for a distinguished team and/or agency? Are they very familiar with your desired area? What is the average price of the homes they sell? How many homes do they sell each year? If the number is very high, how will they insure you receive personal service? What hours/days are they available if you have questions? When are they available to show homes? How do those answers match with your specific situation or schedule? Look for straight forward answers that come without hesitation. Never be afraid to ask follow-up questions, especially if the answers are vague or unclear. Although there isn’t necessarily a “right” answer to many of these questions, this open dialog is designed to help you develop a feeling of comfort and trust, which will be crucial to your ultimate success. If you don’t get that feeling, it may be a good idea to keep interviewing other candidates.
This list is just a basic starting point for purchasing your next home, it is not all-inclusive, nor is it necessarily intended to be completed in this order. If you have questions about the process, or would like to discuss a more detailed strategy for purchasing a home based on your specific situation, I would love to hear from you (even if you haven’t completed the first four steps :) )! Please visit my website at http://david.eastbayproteam.com/ or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org