"Do you really think I can qualify for a home?" she asked. I nodded. Sure, Val was young but she was making excellent money at the job she has been employed at for several years, had a decent amount of savings in her account and a great credit score. So on we went. She spoke to a few lenders we had recommended and she was pre-approved! Val and I discussed her goals for the future. This was just a starter home and was not meant to be "forever". So I knew we had to wisely invest her money in an area with growth. After figuring out we needed some help with closings costs and a gift from her parents, we were ready to close. At the age of 22, closed on her first home. Now, this isn't to say there weren't little bumps along the road but our Broker, Diane, helped us figure out solutions to get us to this monumental moment.
If you are thinking of buying, here are some suggestions:
1. Get a Pre-Approval letter from a TRUSTED lender. If you don't know one, let your agent know. I can almost guarantee they will be able to recommend a handful of them for you to speak with. The Pre-Approval letter is crucial for several reasons; it lets us know what kind of financing and price range we are working with. This price range allows us (buyer and agent) to have a realistic idea of what the amount can get you in certain areas you may prefer. Another reason to get pre-approved is to be able to put in an offer when you do fall in love with a property. The Pre-Approval letter gets you a step closer to owning.
2. Think of the future. I don't just mean what you want to eat for your next meal. I am talking about whether you want this property for short or long term. Why is it necessary to think of this? Two words: RESALE VALUE. Sure you absolutely love the house but you are only planning on living in the city for another three or four years. Do you want to live in a house you love but in a neighborhood with little growth and stagnant sale prices? Let me tell you something, you don't. This brings me to my next piece of advice.
3. Get market statistics. You ask for the Carfax, right? So ask for the market stats! Ask your agent for comparables (comps) on the home you are planning on putting an offer on. You need to know what similar homes are selling for in the area. You don't want to be at the next neighborhood event and find out you paid too much for your home. An informed buyer is a smart buyer.
4. Learn about the area as well as the particular neighborhood you want. Get a feel for what life would be like living there. Is there a lot more traffic there than you had originally envisioned? Is it farther away from school than you had anticipated? If you are a person who thrives off the "bigger city" feel, a house in a neighborhood further away from shopping, restaurants, etc. might not be for you regardless of price.
5. Create a budget for all of the potential expenses. I know. Buying a home is scary. Buying a home is perhaps the biggest financial expense you will make in your lifetime and the last thing you want to do is think about all the money you will have to pay in the future. Here is the thing though: don't stop at the mortgage. You have to think of other potential expenses such as HOA fees or pool maintenance. Don't buy a home you can barely afford without thinking of the other expenses.
6. Remember, your agent and you are on the same team. Do not go to Open Houses without telling the Agent on duty you are already working with another agent. Your agent wants to help you and will do everything in their power to get you the home of your dreams.