Buying a home for the first time can be exciting, stressful, emotional, and at times you may wonder how you are ever going to get those keys in your hand. Before you are ready to take the leap and begin house hunting, there are a few easy steps that you can take to get things started on the right foot and expedite your journey to home ownership. These things can be done ahead of time, so when you find the right house, you can make a move fast!
1) Meet with Several Lenders
Even if you are still a couple of years out from starting your home buying adventure, it is a great idea to meet with a few different lenders in your area. They can help you zero in on some financial goal setting to get you ready to buy. Your lender is a vital component to the home buying process, so it is important that you choose a lender that you enjoy working with. Some lenders are laid back, others are high energy- when you find one that matches your personality, you're ready for the next step.
P.S. If you're not sure where to start, I have several excellent lenders to recommend.
2) Get Pre-Approved
When you decide on a lender, they will work with you to decide on the right loan program as well as go over what you can comfortably afford. They will go over monthly payments, down payment amounts, closing costs, etc. Your lender will then give you a pre-approval for the max amount that you can spend. If you don't have enough work history, too low of a credit score or your debt-to-income ratio is too high, your lender will give you some goals to work towards in order to be eligible to get a loan in the future.
3) Select a Realtor
You are going to spend a lot of time with your realtor, so it is very important to choose a someone that is experienced, professional, and has a personality you enjoy. Ask around to see if any of your friends or family have someone they would recommend. Don't be afraid to meet with several realtors before choosing someone to work with- just make sure you are clear with them that you are interviewing several realtors before you choose someone. If you start working with a realtor and aren't happy with their level of service, be honest with them about your expectations. If you don't see eye to eye, communicate that you would like to stop working with them BEFORE you start working with another realtor. We only get paid when you close on your house- no hourly or salary wages here! So even though we love to assist buyers, it is disappointing to find out they are working with 2 or more realtors at the same time. Believe it or not, this happens more often than you would think!
4) Start Your House Hunt!
Your Realtor will set you up with an MLS search that gives you immediate notifications when new homes come on the market with your criteria. If you are new to town, make time to drive around to get a feel for different neighborhoods. Better yet- take a walk to get a better feel for the areas. Attend open houses, drive by potential listings that you are interested in and stay in touch with your realtor.
5) Shop for Home Owner's Insurance
Your Realtor should have several recommendations for you to explore. It's a good idea to ask your friends and family who they are using as well. Many times, you will receive a bundle discount if you use the same insurance for automotive.
6) Other Things to Remember:
- Make sure you don't quit or change jobs, buy a new car, or splurge on a big vacation or new furnishings until your house closes.
- If you go to an open house, tell the realtor holding the open house that you are already working with a realtor and hand them your realtors business card. If they are aware that you aren't looking for a realtor to represent you, they will let you explore the house without trying to be pushy or offer their services to you.
- It's easy to get wrapped up in the emotions, especially when an offer doesn't get accepted or a seller isn't cooperating. Keep the end goal in mind, envision keys in your hand and stay the course.
- No question is a dumb question! Real estate can feel like a different language and we are always happy to explain the process.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to get started with your own house hunt. If you know a first-time home buyer that is hesitant to get started, please send them my way. I absolutely love assisting first-time home buyers navigate the ins and outs of the home buying process.
Let's grab a cup of coffee and chat real estate!
- Molly Maphet
As a fourth generation Oregonian and resident of Bend for the past 20 years, Molly Maphet has a deep knowledge of the market and local communities. She loves spending time outside with her husband and young son, and will rarely turn down a good cup of decaf coffee.