Shopping for your new home
The very first step you are going to want to tackle is to find a lender and get pre-qualified. The reason this is so important is so that you are only looking at properties in your price point. There is nothing worse than falling in love with your dream home, only to learn that you don't qualify to purchase it. Its does you a disservice as well as your Realtor. Setting realistic goals for what you hope to find in your new home is very important. Your lender will do a general study of your financial situation with information such as your credit score, your income, length of employment and financial obligations and give you a letter of pre-qualification that draws out a maximum amount that you can expect to be approved for your new home. They will also let you know what you can expect to have to produce as a down payment at closing. In addition to your down payment, there are other fees that are accrued when obtaining a home loan such as origination fees, title work and appraisal costs. Make sure to discuss in full, the money that will be needed at closing before you begin shopping.
Once you have your pre-qualification letter, it's time to start shopping! In a strong market, homes generally sell for prices very close to asking price so don't get too overzealous in your searches expecting to get a huge reduction in price. Generally, the properties that you can expect to get a huge reduction on are distressed or fixer upper homes and in most cases, a standard loan such as a VA or FHA loan will not finance them. If you have a large down payment and the means to do repairs, a conventional home loan may be a good option for you.
Being educated is one of your greatest tools when you are shopping for a home, especially in a strong market. When properties are moving, you may not have a day or two to find out the home you want has come up for sale, and you don't want to miss out on your home just because you or your agent weren't vigilant about new properties. Realtors have an amazing tool at their disposal. They can set you up for immediate notification of any properties that hit the market that fit your criteria. This is an incredibly effective tool if you know you are looking for a property that has high demand features or is in a high demand area or category. Many people utilize Zillow and Realtor.com, and although they are populated by the MLS, there is a delay and the information about what is available is not always accurate. You are always better to go straight to the source! You may not get a second chance at the home of your dreams. When you find your home, be ready to act. Don't second guess yourself if it has everything you want and is in the price you need. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush and you might not see that opportunity again. On the flip side, make sure you and your Realtor do their homework. Study the market and check the price against comps to make sure that the property is fairly priced. Research the area and the schools and make sure that it offers the lifestyle you are looking for.
It can be easy to get discouraged, especially if you are looking for something very specific. The more items you have on your must-have list, the longer it is going to find your home. Flexibility is a valuable quality when shopping for your new home if you are working on a timeline. And if you have very specific criteria, than patience will be the quality you'll need to draw on. Make a list of your absolute non-negotiables. What items do you absolutely have to have right now and what can you add later. The old adage of "Location Location Location" is certainly true when looking for a home. You can always put in a pool, but you'll never get the opportunity to install that mountain view or school district of choice. Its about balancing the needs with the wants to find the best fit for you or you and your family. Some people look at one home and thats the one they buy. Others can look for years. Everyone has their criteria for what they want and thus everyone has a different time line for purchasing. You may be in the midst of an expiring lease and you need to act fast or you may be comfortable in your current home and have time to wait out your dream property. Let your Realtor know what your situation is and they will navigate the process to make sure that when "Your" home hits the market, you'll be ready to act.