Buying a home in the internet “should” be easier than ever. Instead of driving from one open house to the next, you can leisurely look at homes while having your morning coffee.
These steps will help you stop chasing the “Bigfoot of Homes” and find the home that’s “just right”.
Establish Your Budget
If you need to get a mortgage start by finding a good Mortgage Broker. Ask them to give you a Pre-Approval letter. The full Pre-Approval will require that they run your credit scores. They’ll need pay stubs, W2s, etc., to document your income. Expect to provide bank statements to verify funds for the down payment. This will take at least a few days, maybe longer if they run into questions.
You can fill out a questionaire online and get a “Pre-Qualification” in minutes. A pre-qualification letter isn’t worth more than the paper it’s printed on. It’s based on your answers to questions. But the answers haven’t been verified. The Pre-Approval means the lender has verified your answers and they meet underwriting guidelines. You will need that pre-approval when you find the home you want to buy. Most sellers won’t consider an offer that only has a pre-qualification.
Once you have the Pre-Approval letter, you will know how much home you can afford to buy.
Searching for Homes in the Wrong Places?
This is where it’s easy to start “looking for big foot”. There are so many websites that allow you to search homes for sale. How do you know which ones are accurate? For starters, look for a local Real Estate website. The big National websites cover every area of the Country. Local websites focus on your local market. Their information is more likely to be up to date and accurate.
Try their home search. Is it easy to use? Does it allow you to save your own search and your favorites? Finding a site that’s allows you to save your favorites wherever you are is the best. Save the favorite you found to show the family when you get home. No need to troll through dozens of sites trying to find it again.
What Kind of Home Does My Budget Buy?
If you’ve been pre-approved for a $250,000 mortgage, you need to look at homes in that price range. Window shopping higher priced homes is great for decorating ideas once you’ve found a home. While searching, it’s best to stay focused on finding the treasure.
Search for homes in your favorite neighborhoods that are close to your work, family, etc. Don’t add a lot of criteria in at first. You want to just get an idea of what sort of home is currently available in your price range. If there are only a few matches expand the search to the nearby neighborhoods. Expand the search radius until you begin to get a feel for what your money will buy.
Keep Your Options Open
No one wants to spend day after day looking at homes that disappoint. At the same time, you don’t want to miss a great home just because you didn’t go see it. The quality of listing photos has improved. We still see some homes without photos. Take a look at the map view. Does the MLS info mention other features on your list? Sometimes the listings without photos are worth a drive by. If the house looks better in person than in the photos, schedule an appointment to see the inside.
If your choices are limited, consider a home that needs a few updates. Counter tops and appliances aren’t too expensive to change. Carpet is easy to pull up and replace. Ask your Lender how you can make your dream home a Reality with the FHA 203K.
Best tip to find your dream home?
Work with a Realtor who knows the area. They’ll know the best neighborhoods for a home that fits your needs. If your criteria isn’t realistic, they’ll help you narrow it down to the most important features. They’ll help you find the best matches in your price range. You’ll find your home and have plenty of time left to go “Search for Bigfoot”.
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