Buying a home can be an exciting—but very stressful—process. There are so many things that you must keep in mind throughout. That’s why Rachel Lee and her team put together this multi-point Buyer’s Guide for prospective new homeowners like you.
Should I hire a real estate agent when I move to a new area?
Let’s be clear. You don’t have to hire an agent. However, hiring an agent can save you a lot of time, money, and a great deal of extra stress. Why?
- An agent that is familiar with your prospective area can directly send you listings that fit your criteria.
- Moreover, agents can spot overpriced listings based upon their research and knowledge of that area’s market and provide you with the right advice.
- Agents may have knowledge of new listings that have not hit the market just yet.
- Agents may be able to preview homes for you.
- Agents can provide valuable advice during the bidding/negotiation process.
Should I get pre-approved first for a mortgage?
When you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, it means that the lender has looked at your financial information and credit history and has decided to extend you a loan based upon what you can afford. With a pre-approval, you know what you are (and what you are not) able to buy.
It should be noted that there’s a difference between being pre-approved and being pre-qualified. Being pre-qualified means that, without taking a hard look at your credit and other financial information, the bank feels that you are a candidate for a mortgage.
We stress to our clients that it is always best to get pre-approved first, so that time can be saved. The southeastern Houston area is a hot market, and you don’t want to spend time looking at houses the lender will not approve you for.
Should I avoid big purchases when getting approved for a mortgage?
Getting approved for a mortgage is a complex and intense process. Lenders want to see that your finances are stable, and you can be relied upon to pay your mortgage. As such, it is recommended that once you decide that you are going to start the process of buying a new home, you avoid making substantial purchases for 3 to 6 months before buying your home. You do not want to risk anything that could (negatively) affect your credit profile.
When is the right time to buy a home?
The home market is very, very cyclical. There is no such thing, whatsoever, about a perfect time to buy a home. This is regardless of the market conditions. The one thing that is constant about real estate is change.
Therefore, if you can afford a new home, and you have found the right home for you and your family—hop on it.
Buying a house is a commitment—don’t be rash!
Never let emotion drive a buying decision. REPEAT: never let emotion drive a buying decision. Keep in mind, you are going to make a purchase with a home loan that will range anywhere from 15 to 30 years. That is a very, very long time. As such, it is important that you make your buying decision based upon what kind of value that you’re getting out of your new home.
In addition, you need to be aware of the potential sleeper costs of your new home. This includes:
- Utility connection fees
- Cable and phone installation
- Homeowner’s association fees
- Property taxes
…all of which go above and beyond your mortgage payment.
Some buyer’s guides call this part of the process “avoiding” sleeper costs. Avoiding is the wrong word; these costs technically can’t be avoided. The right word is “aware”. You need to be aware and prepared, so make sure you budget for these costs.
It comes down to making the smart decision on your home purchase. Don’t just consider your financial position today; think about the years ahead. Also, make sure you have found out everything you would need to know about the home and the neighborhood. The bottom line: you do not want to make a decision that you will end up regretting later.
Don’t find the perfect house—find the right house
In life, there’s no such thing as perfect. That couldn’t be anymore true in real estate. If you feel that you must find the “perfect” house, you’re risking missing out on the house that is available:
- …in the right neighborhood
- …in the right part of town
- …at the right price
- …at the right mortgage payment
- …with the right down payment
- …with the right in-home and community amenities
Seeking the “perfect” house is an emotional decision—the type of decision we just told you to avoid. Finding the right house, however, is a more thoughtful, careful, and deliberate decision. You want to find a house that fits your budget, your mortgage approval, and you and your family’s wants and needs. Also, you want to make sure you are getting the right home at the right value.
Home inspections are critical
Before you make the final buying decision, make sure you have a home inspection completed. A home inspection will provide you with information to help you make the right decision as to whether you should or should not buy. Often, home inspection reports are used as effective tools during the negotiation process.
Location, location, location
Make sure the right home is in the right location! In fact, check out your neighborhood, test drive your commute, learn about surrounding amenities, and research the school district! Location matters—big time, not only for your personal comfort, but for the value of the home as well.
Buying a new home can be difficult, however, it is an exciting process. If you are in the market for a new home, contact Rachel Lee and her team today!