Pre-Approval: Knowing your budget is the first step; historically, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You will also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from their respective lender. This way, assuming the home you're interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.
List of Needs & Wants: Make two lists. The first should be your must have list (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, large backyard for your pets, etc.). The second list is your wish-list, the things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. In reality, first-time buyers will probably not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent (Buyers Agent), one who is working for you not the seller. Contact me today to discuss potential representation.
Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted. A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper. Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search. Digital or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings.
Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (freeway access, shopping, parks) and negative (garbage dump, source of noise, abandoned properties) features of the area?
Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget essentials such as:
Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer. Have the property inspected by a professional inspector. Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing. You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice ceiling fan that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please email me or call me directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.