If you are a first-time homebuyer looking for a home in the Spokane, Washington or North Idaho areas, you have many options. Since you’ve never been through this process before, you may be a little mystified as to where you should start. For reliable advice about how to get the ball rolling on finding your first home, the real estate professionals at Prime Real Estate can help. Here are five tips that can put you on the right track.
1. Examine Your Budget and Financial Situation
It’s important to know what your house-buying budget is before beginning the process. To do this, sit down with all your financial information, take a hard look at your monthly income and expenses, determine how much saved money is available for a down-payment, assess your overall debt picture, and find out your credit rating.
2. Get Mortgage Pre-Approval from a Financial Institution
Once you gather this information, sit down with a loan officer from a reputable lending institution to obtain a mortgage loan pre-approval. This process is relatively quick and easy, and the lender will tell you exactly which documents to bring. And remember, just because you obtain a pre-approval from one lender does not obligate you to use that lender when you ultimately decide to purchase.
Do not be surprised if the loan officer gives you a different budget number than the one you may have calculated on your own. The lender has a better idea of what an actual house purchase entails, including things like homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance, property taxes, interest rates, loan fees (points), and so on.
Most real estate agents appreciate a pre-approval, and may even require it before taking you as a client. The last thing either you or your agent wants is to make an offer on a home you love, and then find out that you cannot obtain the necessary financing. A pre-approval will give you both the confidence that, when you find a house that you want to buy, you will be able to purchase it.
3. Make a Wish List
When you’ve never owned a house before, you can focus on conquering the purchasing process itself, and less on the house you are looking for. But buying a house is a major undertaking, so think carefully about what sort of house you want. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Do you need a home office? Do you want a single story home, or are you okay with stairs? How much yard can you take care of? Do you want an attached garage? Do you prefer an open floor plan?
By having answers to these questions, both you and your agent will be able to filter out those houses that just don’t meet your criteria. Also, you will be less likely to have your judgment swayed by the emotional pull of a house with a beautifully landscaped yard or a fantastic view, but which lacks the number of bedrooms you need.
When putting together your wish list, make a distinction between “must have” and “want”, and be aware that you may not find a house that meets all of your needs and wants. Knowing which items are deal-breakers and those things on which you are willing to compromise will help you make better decisions. And when you know what you need, don’t settle for less.
4. Plan for the Future
Another important aspect of buying a house is thinking about the future and the bigger picture of how you want to live. Make sure the house you select will suit your needs for as long as you plan to stay in it. For example, will you be starting or expanding your family in the next few years? Do you plan on getting any pets? Do you need to be near a good school, or medical facilities? Is your commute to work and shopping acceptable? Whatever matters to you, put it on your wishlist. The more thought you put into it, the more likely you will purchase a house you can be happy in for a long time.
5. Find a Real Estate Agent
Now that you have set a budget, obtained a pre-approval, and made your wish list, you are ready to find a real estate agent and give them clear directions on what you are looking for. You may still feel a bit overwhelmed, but you should also feel excited about embarking on this major milestone of buying your first home.
Our experts at the Prime Real Estate Group are ready to help. We can make the process straightforward, seamless, and even fun. Contact us today at Prime Real Estate Group to speak with an agent. We won’t rest until we find you the perfect property to call home.