Most people think that the first thing you should do once you’ve decided to take the plunge into buying your first place is go look at houses. It’s definitely on the list of things to do, but perhaps not first on the list.
Not sure where to start? Here are some First Steps you should take:
- Call me! What I mean is, get yourself a Buyer’s Agent. If you’re not sure how to pick one, a good place to start is finding one who is an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR). All of Dream Town’s agents have received or are working towards their ABRs. What’s the ABR designation, you may ask?
- Talk to 2-3 lenders and get pre-qualified. Remember these key points in the process: First, home loans are not one-size fits all and second, neither are lenders, they often don’t offer the same programs. With this in mind, find a lender that is able to offer you a program and rate for your financial situation, not that of your friend who really loved their lender. You will know exactly what you can afford, and won’t waste your time looking at places that are too expensive or not as nice as you can afford. And, since sellers will certainly ask to see a letter anyway, you’ll be helping to smooth the road to your new home.
- Go for a ride. Not sure if an area is right for you? Remember- everyone is different. You can ask your agent all day long if they like certain areas but YOU are the one who will live there. Take a drive through areas you’re interested in but unfamiliar with before setting up a bunch of showings. Go during the day and at night. Your Dream Town agent will provide sources for additional info like crime statistics, demographics, schools, proximity to public transportation, etc. Make sure that the area, as well as the property, feels like home to you.
- Narrow it down. What’s the single most important feature you want in your new home? Hardwood floors? A parking space? Open floorplan? What are other must-haves? A deck? Granite countertops? Are these things “deal breakers”? Look at pictures online to get an idea in your head of what you’d like to see in your new place. Your Dream Town agent will help you navigate through the properties and get it down to a manageable list.
- Now comes the fun part – Start looking! When you and your Dream Town agent start going on showings, bring a camera with you and snap a few pictures of each place. Believe me- after you’ve seen a bunch you may have trouble remembering the features of each one. And be aware of your energy level- some people can look at 8 places in one afternoon and not break a sweat, while others may be tired after just a few. Everyone’s different, so communicate with your agent. Personally, I keep a huge stash of cookies in my car in case it’s a marathon day. Remember- this should be exciting and fun for you! Happy hunting!