If you’ve already made the decision to buy a home for the first time, congrats! You’ve already made the first step towards homeownership. There’s still a lot of work to be done, however, and the home buying process can be pretty hectic.
To help you out, we’ve listed some of the most important things you should cover before you even start looking at homes.
- Find an ideal real estate agent
Many first-time buyers, perhaps due to excitement, start their search by immediately looking at listings online. It may not be that big a deal, but you may simply be wasting precious time by looking at homes you can’t really afford.
The home buying process can become frustrating and tedious if you don’t have a professional at your side. Look for agents who specialize in the area or neighborhood you’re planning to relocate to, and take into account key information such as number of houses sold and years of experience.
Interview around two to three agents before making a decision.
- Get in touch with a mortgage lender
Some experts say it’s better to talk to a mortgage lender before you find an agent, but in some ways it might be better if get the services of an agent first. You’re going to look for a local lender, so a real estate agent will be able to tell you which local lenders are the most trustworthy, and which ones to avoid.
Talk to your agent and ask for two to three lender recommendations. This will allow you to take into account several financing options, before you decide on a lender that’s ideal for you.
- Improve your credit
The mortgage lender you choose will pull up your credit score. A credit score of 760 and above is considered the best score range – if you have this, you’ll be able to qualify for the best interest rates.
Credit scores are based on several factors, including debt payment history, debt-to-credit utilization, credit history length, and so on.
There are some steps you can take in order to boost your credit rating, but keep in mind that it’s not doable overnight. There’s a possibility you may need to delay your house hunt for a few months to allow you to improve your score.
- Look for the right neighborhood
To find the neighborhood that’s right for you, you need to consider your overall lifestyle. Look for areas that will meet your school requirements, commuting options, and other preferences, such as proximity to friends or relatives.
Also look for a neighborhood that will allow you to enjoy favorite pastimes or hobbies, like jogging in the morning, or dining out during the weekends.
- Take care of your finances
When you’re looking for a home, you need to be extra careful with your finances. Your loan isn’t fully approved as it needs to go through underwriting, which typically takes place a few days before the closing process.
Make sure your credit score is stable by not incurring new debt, failing to make student loan payments, opening new credit cards, or neglecting credit card payment due dates.