HOUSE HUNTING TIPS

 

As I have mentioned on my previous post, one thing that stresses me out lately is house hunting.

Recently, the husband and I have started the complicated, stressful and sometimes difficult process of searching for a home to buy. This is my first time and the very expensive investment I will have. I grew up in the Philippines where we have practiced closed family ties. As I have moved here in US 2 years ago, I worked hard to established myself until I find myself ready to purchase my own home.

Unlike most people, I have the advantage to be married to someone who has well over 25 years of experience in the Real Estate and Lending industry. However, even with his experience, he has been retired for several years and things change fast in this business.




I wanted to take some time and let my readers know the 3 most important rules to the Home Buying Process as I have learned. Following these rules will make the process much more pleasant and less complicated.

#1. Find an experienced Real Estate Agent.

As I mentioned, things change quickly. This includes neighborhoods, prices, laws and local regulations. Although some people think they can save money going on their own (especially with all the apps and websites these days), there are critical reasons a good realtor can save you money in the long run. Even with all the property search options on the internet, a good licensed realtor has access to the MLS (local Multiple Listing Service) and often has access to properties that are about to go on the market. In a hot sales climate, seeing a property before everyone else can be critical. Another big reason is the contracts and negotiations are complicated and trying to do that on your own can not only cost you the Home. Mistakes on a contract can also open you up to costly legal issues later in and also prevent you from getting the best deal in the long run.




#2. Consult an experienced Mortgage Broker.

The days when you just go to your local bank for your home loan, long ago passed. Now you can even apply online for a mortgage and even compare rates. The problem with the personal bank option is that you are relying on an often inexperienced Bank Loan Officer who is only familiar with what their own bank has to offer. Although in some cases, they may have great loan options, it is highly likely that there are better options for you out there.

As far as the websites advertising, you can apply to multiple places and they will compete for your business. Although, you do get to check rates with multiple lending institutions, unless you know what the best options are for you, there are risks. Understanding the financial terms they often throw at you, including up front fees (points) and other hidden costs as well as qualifying requirements are critical and shouldn’t be made without knowing what you are doing.

A Mortgage Broker works with multiple different lenders (aka Investors) who have a wide range of loan products, prices and Lending guidelines. An experienced Mortgage Broker will be able to look at your specific situation, finances and long term needs to steer you towards the best loan for you. Remember, even if you don’t live in the home for life, the average person either sells or refinances within 7 years, so even a small fraction on your rate or higher financed fees can cost you thousands of dollars.

Be sure to check online ratings and references for your broker to ensure they have a wide selection of lenders they work with and that their former clients were satisfied. A home is the biggest purchase you will make and cutting corners on who finances it, is not a wise move.

#3. Get a Loan Approval Before shopping for your home.

Many people think they are ready to buy and will often rush out on their own house hunting, or even with the help of an RE Agent and discover that they find the home they love. However, for someone like myself who’s on a budget, there are steps that you have to take first. There are some instances where you are unable to even make an offer of the home because most home owners (or their agents) will not even accept a purchase offer. Unless you already have a Loan Approval (Pre-Approval) Letter from your lender indicating that they have reviewed your credit, income and assets and have determined you are qualified for financing. It is also important to know what your price range is that you qualify for. Once your lender reviews all your details, you will have a clear understanding of how much home you can afford and what fits into your budget as well. Nobody wants to fall in love with a home to find out you either don’t qualify or the home is outside of your budget. You also may find that you can actually afford that nicer or larger home that you didn’t expect.

You may also find when you consult with your broker and they review your details, that there are items on your credit you were not aware of, or that your scores may not be good enough for what you are seeking. Additionally, an experienced broker may recognize that you can qualify for a better loan program, lower rates or fees if you are able to improve your credit scores. This can often be accomplished by making some minor steps to close, pay down, remove or in some cases even open up new lines of credit. Sometimes these are things you can easily accomplish on your own. In some cases your broker may work with or refer you to a reputable credit repair company that specializes in improving your credit scores.

The home buying and loan process can be one of the most stressful experiences there is, but the payoff of owning your own home makes it worth it. By following the above 3 steps I recommend, I can assure you that it will make the process much easier and far less harrowing as well as improving the chances tremendously you end up with the home of your dreams.

As always luvies, after you read this over, if you have questions, you can comment below and I will answer anything I can.

53 comments

  1. Tina says:

    Great post! As a licensed realtor I agree wholeheartedly with the suggestions listed here. I would also add – once you have your loan pre-approval DON’T BUY ANYTHING! No purchases until after your sale closes – too often this is the thing that all too often ruins deals so don’t take the chance. Great post!

  2. Carmi Joice says:

    Wo hoo! This post is close to my heart as I am in the same industry! I totally agree with all of your points, it’s always good to consult a professional to avoid mistakes in owning your dream home!

  3. Sophie says:

    My fiance and I are inheriting a family home, but we still want to look for a place so we will need to do all of this. Right now we are looking at areas around the city we want to live near, but as soon as we’ve decided what is best for us we will definitely get to work on being approved for a loan. Great tips!

  4. Yuen Mi says:

    House hunting is really stressful, and without a professional to help you, things can go really wrong down the road. Thanks for the great tips.

  5. Tiara Wilson says:

    These are some incredible tips. Tips that I will keep in mind because we are in the process now of figuring out if we want to keep renting on base or if we want to move off base and purchase our first home.

  6. Rosemary says:

    These are great tips especially for first time homeowners. There are many moving parts and you’ve done an excellent job of addressing them. Getting pre-approved is indeed key!! Good luck on your house hunt.

  7. Robin Rue says:

    These are such great pieces of advice! A good realtor is SO important and can be such a big help/resource when you find the right one.

  8. Kristie says:

    I think #3 is sooo important. A friend of my husband’s fell in love with a house and later found out their loan wasn’t approved. Definitely needed to know before looking! I will soon be looking too so this is very timely.

    • anne.wright says:

      oh Kristie, I agree. My husband is always trying to remind me to slow down on house hunting because we are still working on our loan application. He always reminds me that by that time, the house I wanted is poof. gone!

  9. karen says:

    Yeah – house hunting is so super major that its important to do your homework ahead of time. Its like buying a car. Such big purchases, you want to be sure on all areas!

  10. Janel B. says:

    I’ve been very fortunate and not had to move in the past 17 years. I can only imagine how frustrating househunting might be depending on the market if houses are selling too fast then buyers don’t have enough houses to look at .

  11. Bailey says:

    Thank you for these awesome tips! Super helpful for me and my husband as we look at buying a home for the first time.

  12. Ana De- Jesus says:

    I am no way near the stage of being able to own my own house but it is handy to know what I need to do to secure a property. Finding an experience agent sounds like a good idea x

  13. Kristina says:

    Great advice for people searching to buy a home! I own my second home. It’s definitely an easy process when you follow these tips and do your research.

  14. daniella says:

    I love these amazing tips! My favorite and one I have never done and NEED to do when I buy a home is to get loan approval before I decide to go house hunting! We are looking to buy a new home soon so I think I am going to have to do this before we start the house hunting process!

  15. Jessica Joachim says:

    these are very important! I remember looking for out first home, and without our amazing realtor none of it would have been possible! Having a good person to help is super important!

  16. Brittany says:

    This is amazing! My husband and I are hoping to buy a house by the end of the year so we need every tip we can get.

  17. Amanda Love says:

    These are great tips especially for people who are buying their first home. It’s been a while since I went house hunting! I can’t remember the things that I did!

  18. Elizabeth O. says:

    These are really helpful. A real estate agent can do so much for you, if you found the right one of course. It’s much less pressure if you consult people who are experienced in the area.

  19. Blythe Alpern says:

    These tips are essential. I definitely think you should know how much you can afford before you go shopping. You don’t want to look at homes that are far beyond your budget.

  20. ejnosillA/RedefiningHERstory says:

    This is great… i have a dear friend who is house hunting as i am writing this blog… i am going to share your tips with her and thanks for such a useful piece of information!

  21. misty nelson dawn says:

    These are absolutely a good post, We’re planning to buy a house by next year and I love your tips, finding a good real estate agent it great for me.

  22. Heather says:

    Great tips! We had our house on the market a couple of years ago while we were building a new home. Long story but it all fell through and we ended up staying in our house and building a pool instead. We are happy here but know if we found the right house, would be excited to list our current home again. House hunting is stressful for me too!

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