House hunting means more than shopping for a home. You have to take the right steps in order to make sure you get the right home. It’s more than about the home itself, it’s also about the financing and finding the right neighborhood too.
Do Some Soul Searching Before House Hunting
Start the process by doing some soul searching. What is it that you want in a home? How long will you be in the home? How much room do you need? Is this a forever home or is it more temporary? You’ll also want to determine if you want a move-in ready home or a fixer-upper.
The answers to these questions will help you decide what will be right for you.
Start Your Research
Once you know the type of home you want/need, you can start your research. Start with a big area, for example, let’s say you know you want to live in the Chicago area. You can start your research in all of Chicago. Look for homes that are around the size you want and in the location you desire.
For example, is it important that you live near the highway or near a train station? This can help you narrow your search down. Maybe you want to live near a good school or near the local shopping centers. As you look through areas, you will begin to narrow down your options.
Once you have three or four areas that you like, you can then start researching those particular areas. You can look up the crime rates, school ratings, and price ranges just by doing a search on the neighborhood. The internet is full of information that can help you in your research. Remember, you aren’t just buying a home; you are buying into a neighborhood. You’ll want to make sure it’s an area you like.
Contact a Lender
Once you are getting close to choosing an area, it’s time to find a lender. At this time, you’ll just need a prequalification. This gives you an idea of how much you can afford. It’s not an approval or a guarantee of approval in the future. It gives you a ballpark to work within.
As you work with the lender, you can continue to narrow your search for a home down. Once you have it nailed down to one area, you can ask the lender for the preapproval. This still isn’t a guarantee of approval, but it lets sellers and realtors know that a lender processed your credit score, income, assets, and liabilities. Based on what they’ve seen, they approve you for a specific loan amount.
This preapproval letter will get you far with sellers and realtors. It’s your foot in the door and the way to get them to take your bids seriously.
Making the Bid
Once you have your preapproval and you find the home that meets your needs, it’s time to make the bid. You can work with a realtor or on your own. If you work with a realtor, they can do the bidding for you. All you have to do is give him the go ahead on how much you want to bid. The realtor does the dirty work while you wait for the phone call that your bid was accepted.
House hunting is a process that requires plenty of research and patience. You need to take your time, as this is one of the largest investments you’ll ever make. Talk with professionals, including realtors and mortgage lenders so they can give you their insight. If this is your first home, you’ll want all of the help you can get. Even if it’s not your first home, though, the professionals can help you make the most of the process, helping you get the home you want and love.