So you want to buy a home and you are a first-time homebuyer? You have heard homes are selling like hotcakes and you want to get in on the action. You also need a place to live and you have decided you would rather pay money to yourself rather than to a landlord. What is next?
For most people with an interest in buying a home, the journey begins by searching local listings on sites such as Zillow. This is certainly an effective way to get a general sense of the market and the prices of most homes in the various neighborhoods around town – or out in the country if you are looking to get away. Of course, if you are looking for a home in the Seattle area, you can search available listings just here.
At some point, you are going to have to involve other people in the process. Most buyers whether new or not, will need a lender to fund the purchase and a real estate agent to write the offer. Luckily for buyers, real estate services are not a direct cost to the buyer. Agent commissions are a seller expense.
So you can spend your free time looking through listings or you can ask an agent to help you, tell them what you want, and let them to the work – at no cost to you.
That’s too good a deal to pass up in my humble, real estate agent opinion.
Another reason to get an agent involved early, is that they can advise you where it is best to spend your hard earned money. They will also have a list of supporting professionals to help you have a successful and low stress experience. So, bottom line, find an agent and if they don’t perform up to your expectations, find another. Online reviews can help shorten the process.
Finally, just so you have a general idea of how the process works, please see the outline below. Even if you hire a driver to take you somewhere, it’s smart to know where you’re going so you can make sure they don’t lead you astray.
- Define your ideal property based on your lifestyle. Live for horses? You will need a ranch.
- Define the neighborhoods that have the amenities and proximity to services you want.
- Find an agent and tell them what you are looking for and where and be open to edits.
- Talk to a lender to find out how much you can borrow. That will define your budget. Be aware there are state programs, tax breaks and federally-backed mortgages you can take advantage of as a first-time homebuyer.
- Ask the lender for pre-approval, not just pre-qualification. Pre-approval is stronger.
- Once approved, do not buy anything on credit until AFTER you buy your home.
- Have your home of interest inspected. Your agent can refer you to an inspector.
- Communicate frequently with your agent and rely on them to guide the process.
- Make an offer and send your Earnest Money Deposit (1 – 3%) to Escrow on time.
- Sign the final documents and ask for the keys.
- Move in and enjoy your home.