What Do I Do First?
When it comes time to actually shopping for a home, the list of things that you need to do can seem a tad overwhelming. There are so many things to consider: Where do I want to live? Are the schools any good? How many bedrooms do we need? How much do we want to spend on our new home?
You’ve probably even spent most of your waking, non-working moments poring over books and articles about the home-buying process, watching “My First Place” on HGTV, scouring internet sites like Zillow and Yahoo! Real Estate or even using my website (hint, hint) to check out homes in your favorite area that you think you might possibly want to move into. You might have even been to one or two (or in my wife’s case – twenty) local open houses to get a feel for being out there and productive in your search for you first Dream Home.
First of all, you should be doing most of those activities under the protection and guidance of your Buyer’s Agent (I know one of those that could help – today is not my day for subtlety), but we’ll get to that a bit later. The first step in your home buying process isn’t actually finding that perfect property or even hiring your agent. The absolute first thing you should do is:
Talk to a Mortgage Lender!
You got it. Even before you select your real estate agent, you should get in contact with a mortgage lender to review just what your mortgage options truly are. Nothing will derail a home search faster than finding out your dream home and reality budget aren’t compatible with each other. Can you afford the payments? Are you comfortable with the down payment requirements of your particular loan needs? Finding out what you can afford, or even if you are comfortable with the financial responsibilities of home ownership up front can make life easier for both you, your lender and your agent in the long run.
Besides, wouldn’t you rather know right away what you can and cannot afford? There’s no sense letting yourself down by falling in love with a $300,000 home when your budget only allows for $250k? Now is not the time for champagne taste on a beer budget. On the flip side, finding out your budget may be larger than you first imagined may open up countless new opportunities to find that dream home.
However, it’s not enough to just talk to the lender. Tomorrow, a bit on how you can make the most of that conversation.