How to start your home search
Congratulations on deciding to take the first steps toward owning your own property! Lets get started!
Step 1: Talk to a lender
There are a few good reasons to get all your financial tasks taken care of before you start looking for a home.
Know what you can afford
Talking to your lender will determine what you can afford to buy. Nothing is more annoying starting your home search with a purchase price in mind and finding a house you love only to discover that you cannot afford it! Find out what you can spend first!
The MUST HAVE pre-approval letter
The way the market is working these days, you MUST have a pre-approval letter from your lender. By arranging your finances ahead of time, you can get that letter very quickly. Properties are selling quickly, so being able to produce that letter as quickly as possible is a must if you want to make your offer before other buyers.
Another big reason to talk with your lender first is that you may have borrowing options that never occurred to you. Your status as a veteran, teacher, member of law enforcement, firefighter or other career may play a part in whether or not you have access to special lending options. Discuss all of these items with the lender you decide to work with.
Finding the right lender
I always suggest that my clients talk to more than one lender when shopping for their loan. The process of borrowing money is just like buying a car, you are buying a financial product. Shop around for the best deals. The best way to get a good sampling of what is out there is to talk with several different kinds of lending institutions, here are some suggestions:
- Your current bank. Talk to the folks at your current bank, where you have your checking account. See what their loan folks offer you.
- Check with a credit union. Find a local credit union and see what they can do for you. If you belong to a profession that offers a credit union, check there.
- Small direct lender. If you bank with a smaller local bank, then check in with one of the big banks (Wells Fargo, BofA, Chase, etc). I have found that small local banks that lend directly to home owners often have a much more rational lending policy. The bigger banks tend to lean more toward doing what the computer tells them after entering all your data.
- Try a loan broker. Loan brokers can offer you borrowing products from all different kinds of lenders. If you have an odd or unique situation, these folks will often have the most creative financing solutions.
- Give me a call or email. If you are looking for some names of people to talk with, I can help you. Over the years, I have worked with an awful lot of lenders and can suggest a couple for you to reach out too.
Step 2: Start your search!
You can actually start this search at any time. It is usually better to do it after you know how much you can spend. But it can also be a great way to figure out what your money can buy you.
Work out what you want
Sit down and figure out what you must have from your new home. Decide if you will only settle for a single family residential home or if a townhouse or condo will do. How many bedrooms will you settle for? What about bathrooms? Do you need a larger yard? Do you have to be near the train station? Once you have figured out how your new home needs to fit into your lifestyle, you will be better able to put together a search that will find the right home for you.
Start the search!
Once you have figured out what you are looking for, it is time to get the search running. You want a search that will give you the most up to date information available. Homes are selling quickly, so you need to get the word as soon as a home that fits your needs comes onto the market. Sites like Zillow, Trulia and Yahoo Real Estate will NOT give you the timely information you need. They tend to get new listing information a day or two late and sold properties tend to continue to show up as available for months. Your absolute best chance to find the home you want without wasting your time is to arrange a search through me. My search tools get their info from the same database that real estate agents use, so it is the most up to date and accurate information available. You can either send me a message letting me know what you are looking for, or you can use one of the tools on this page to start your search yourself …. RIGHT NOW!