Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker to find out how much you can afford to invest on a new home.
Pre- Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers are much more receptive to potential buyers who are pre-approved. Avoid disappointment by looking at properties that may be out of your price range. With pre-approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment letter from a lender. This way, a seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for their home. Costs for pre-approvals are generally nominal and lenders usually permit payment at the time of closing.
List of Needs & Wants: Make two lists. The first should include your “must haves” (e.g. number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc.). The second should be your “wish list”—those things you’d like to have (large backyard, pool, additional upgrades, et al.), but aren’t absolutely necessary. Realistically, first-time buyers probably won’t get everything on their wish list, but having those lists keeps them on track for just the right property.
Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring a real estate agent, one who is working for you and specializes in the type of property you are looking for.
Focus & Organization: To maximize your search efforts, keep the following items handy:
• One or more detailed maps with areas of interest highlighted.
• A file of homes the agent has shown you, along with setup sheets and photos.
• Paper and pen for taking notes as you search.
• Take pictures to help refresh your memory on each home.
Location: Look at potential homes as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on features of the area such as curb appeal, school districts, crime rate, proximity to positives (i.e. shopping, parks, freeway access) and negatives (i.e. abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise)?
Be Objective: When searching for a new home ask yourself the two questions: Does this home really meet my needs? Does it financially make since?
Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don’t forget such essentials such as:
• Including inspection and mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
• Having the property inspected by a professional.
• Checking to see that no changes were made that weren’t agreed upon (i.e., closing cost, repairs, et al.).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That’s why having a professional represent you and keep track of the details is highly recommended.
Steve Nemmers, of Nemmers Realty, is only an e-mail Steve.Nemmers@nemmersrealty.com
or phone call 562-590-5640 away. He will work hard to help make your home-hunting search a positive and successful experience.