TIPS TO GETTING STARTED IN YOUR HOME SEARCH

1)    Create a Budget

It’s important to evaluate your finances and spending habits to determine how much you can afford. Take into account all types of expenses. If you’re not exactly sure how much you spend, keep a journal by writing down everything you spend for a least 30 days. Categorize them into these buckets:

·      Fixed expenses: student loans, car payments, cell phone & internet bills

·      Variable expenses: groceries, entertainment

·      Periodic expenses: charitable donations, seasonal gifts

TIP: Evaluate your variable and periodic expenses to determine if there are any savings opportunities. 

2)     Determine the monthly payment you are comfortable with

When figuring this, don’t forget to factor in the cost of homeowners insurance and property taxes. If you are considering a condo or townhome, be sure to include monthly HOA dues. Depending on your down payment and/or mortgage loan program, you may have to factor in Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). 

TIP: Use the mortgage calculator to plug and adjust the variables (e.g. down payment, interest rate, taxes, etc.)

3)    Use Credit Wisely

During the preapproval process, a lender will pull your credit or your FICO score to assess your reliability in paying your bills on time and to assess your debt to income ratio. While in the process of looking for a home, do nothing to adversely impact your credit including making large purchase or even canceling open credit lines. 

TIP: When in doubt about whether a certain action will hurt your credit, talk to your lender. 

4)    Get Pre-approved

It’s advisable to get pre-approved before you start the house-hunting process. This will give you an accurate assessment of what you can afford and you can plan your search accordingly. In the event that the process reveals issues with your credit history, you have time to address them vs. being caught by surprise afteryou’ve found the home you want to buy. In addition to pulling your credit, a lender will need to see recent paystubs, bank statements, tax returns and employment verification. Veterans pursuing VA financing will need to provide their certificate of eligibility (COE).

TIP: Ask me for recommendations on lenders. Not all lenders are created equal and aligning yourself with a lender with a proven track record is critical to a successful offer and on time closing. 

5)    Make a Wish List

Consider key factors of which location typically tops the list. Think about things like commute time, proximity to desired schools, shopping centers or public transit. Other factors on your wish list can include things like age or style of the home, size of lot, etc. It is equally important to be clear on what your ‘deal-breakers’ might be. For some it’s being on a busy street or not having a garage. 

TIP: Share your wish list with me so I can help identify homes that meet your needs

6)    Get Organized

Touring multiple homes can get confusing and memory can be tricky. Do take notes on every home you visit, jotting down the things you like and didn’t like and overall impressions of how the home compares to your wish list. 

TIP: Use this handy form to keep track of your thoughts of the homes you’ve toured.

6 THINGS TO LOOK FOR ON YOUR HOME TOUR

1)    Location

This famous real estate adage “location, location, location” is true for a reason! Location matters so beware and take note when you find yourself trying to convince yourself otherwise. 

2)    The home’s structure, systems & scenery

Look at everything in the home that will cost money down the line to fix. These include appliances, flooring, landscaping, roof and HVAC systems. Are there external elements like a lake view that add to or electrical towers that may detract from the home’s desirability?  

3)    Storage and Space 

Be sure to check the home’s storage space – closets, garage, attic, etc. – to assess whether it can accommodate your lifestyle and ongoing organizational needs. 

4)    Odor

Do the sniff test. For people with allergies or other sensitivities this is important to determine if prior owners smoked or had pets, or if there are potential issues with moisture and mildew. 

5)    Water Damage

If you see signs of potential water damage on your home tour, talk to me and your contractor prior to purchasing the home. Depending on the root cause, you may not have to pay for costly renovations. 

6)    Light

Particularly in the Pacific Northwest, how much light a home gets, especially on our typical overcast days, is an important consideration. 

TIP: Use this handy form to keep track of your thoughts of the homes you’ve toured.

COMMON MISTAKES HOME BUYERS MAKE

o  Not understanding the local market and all that is available.

o  Screening the masses, trying to see everything, whether in their price range or not. 

o  Not understanding pricing and the value of certain amenities.

o  Weak negotiating. This mistake can cost a buyer thousands of dollars. 

o  Not understanding all available financing. 

o  Looking for the perfect home. 

o  Not previewing schools, shopping and other neighborhood considerations. 

TIP: Avoid all of these mistakes by enlisting me as your trusted professional to help you be successful in your home buying journey.