Who Knew? Where to start when considering buying your first home.

So you're thinking about buying your first home.  Congratulations on making one of the biggest steps to the biggest purchase you've made to date.  It's not just a purchase like a pair of shoes....  It's the grown up responsibility of becoming a HOME OWNER!  

I'm shocked to find out just how much information ISN'T provided to the segment of the population that needs more data than anyone else.  Where do I begin?  What's any first step?  Who do I ask?

It's very common to start looking on one of the websites out there that starts with a "Z" before you even know what you can and cannot afford.  So right now, before you look at one more home on line...  

  • Contact a LENDER! Don't go to a "quick and easy" pre-approval site online.  Either contact the local Chamber of Commerce, or go through the "Yellow Pages" online to find someone in your area that a you can set up an appointment.  Ask these questions on your first phone call.....
  1. What information will you need from me to get me PRE-APPROVED (not pre-qualified)?  
  2. What is the price range that we can consider?
  3. What are the UP FRONT FEES (Fees that need to be paid for BEFORE you close) (ie inspections, appraisals, application fee?)
  4. When can we start looking?
  5. How long will it take too close?

This step is CRITICAL!  Especially, know that number 3 is extremely important.  You DO NEED MONEY IN THE BANK TO BUY A HOME.  Even if it's a zero down loan, you will need an ESCROW Deposit (good faith money that is attached to your executed contract and held in "escrow" until closing.  It will be used to go against the amount you are financing.  EVEN IF you have the seller's pay a portion of your closing costs and pre-paid items.... you MUST have funds available for application, Inspections, Appraisal, and ESCROW.  If you don't have $2500-$3000 at your disposal, then you might need to wait just a bit to start making offers on homes.  

  • Contact a LICENSED REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL (hopefully yours truly).  Let them know the name of your lender, give them a copy of your PRE-APPROVAL, and come up with 5 non-negotiable things that we need to focus on when searching for a home.  Things to consider (just as examples)
  1. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want/need?   This is often referred to like this:   3/2 (means 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms)
  2. Do you want a one story home or does it matter that there are 2 stories?
  3. How much ground do you want to purchase?  Do you want to be in a neighborhood, out in the country or in the downtown/urban area? (wrapping these all together)
  4. Do you want a single family home (a house that isn't attached to someone else's building), a condominium, a townhouse (2 or 3 story building that is attached to your neighbors 2 or 3 story building), or a mobile/manufactured home?
  5. Do you have children?  School age?  
  6. Do you want a private pool or community pool or neither?
  7. Do you want a garage?  If so, 1 car, 2 car or more?
  8. Do you have pets?  Will you be searching for a home with a fence?
  9. Do you understand what an HOA (Homeowners Association) means?  Do you know the term CDD?  *** These are really important**

Once you have these 2 important contacts made and established a rapport, it's time to start officially looking.  Now don't ask your Real Estate Professional "where is a good area for me to raise kids".  We can't answer that question.  It's not allowed, and it's actually cause for us to lose our license or have it suspended.  So....  Start checking out the school situations in the city you're looking to move.  There are tons of statistics out there that can help guide you.  But remember, we can't.  

What is the MOST IMPORTANT factor with this process?  COMMUNICATION!  Know that neither of these professional people will typically be working at midnight.  If you want to leave an email or a text, know that either one will get back with you as soon as possible.  Let your professionals know what is the best time to reach you, what method of contacting you do you prefer (call, text, email?). Know that both of these professionals will work together to get you into the house of your dreams.  You just need to know the protocol and set up expectations from the beginning.

No more WHAT TO DO in this blog.  I've given you enough to get you started!  If you know a REALTOR, they can help you find a lender and vice versa.  


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