In the Batter's Box: Entering the Housing Market
Time to step into the batter’s box, take your stance, and get ready for that pitch. Are you ready?
It can be nerve-wracking. Stepping up to the plate, knees bent, elbows up. But in the back of your mind, you know you have been practicing your swing for weeks. You know you can do this. Preparation is key when it comes to setting yourself up for success. Follow these six tips to prepare for entering the housing market.
1. Find a Realtor – Start asking friends, family, and coworkers, if they have a connection with an established, professional Realtor you could meet with to begin your homebuying experience. Referrals are one of the best ways to find a housing expert to help guide you through the process.
2. Find a Loan Officer – Many Realtors work directly with a specific mortgage company or mortgage professional through business partnerships. If your Realtor does not have this arrangement already established, he or she can still point you towards a reputable company. Again, reach out to people you know and ask for referrals and recommendations for past positive experiences.
3. Get Pre-Approved – Start out on the right foot by getting pre-approved. A pre-approval from a mortgage lender lets sellers know you are serious and ready to buy. Talk to your Realtor and mortgage professional about starting this process. Get your W2s, bank statements, and paystubs ready. The lender will want a clear overview of your financial status before promising to lend you money for a home.
4. Establish a Budget – Once you have been pre-approved, it’s time to decide what your budget will be. You know have the amount a lender is willing to loan you. From this number, have a serious discussion with your Realtor about what you are comfortable paying for both down payment as well as monthly mortgage payments.
5. Determine a Timeframe – Are you trying to move quickly or do you have time to find the perfect property? Determining the timeframe you have to work with helps both you and your Realtor establish realistic goals when it comes to searching for a home and diving into the loan process. If your timeframe is limited, be prepared to attend multiple home showings in a short period and decide quickly if you put an offer on a property. A more fluid or longer timeframe can give you some wiggle room to be pickier and shop around for the right deal. Determining the timeframe will help keep you on track from the beginning.
6. Create a List of Wants vs. Needs – There are aspects of a home people want but are not necessary. Other aspects are a must for you to even consider putting an offer in. Having a clearly defined list of wants versus needs will help guide you through the process as you look at homes. It is easy to get caught up in how a home looks or is staged. But being able to take a step back and look at the foundation of the home is incredibly important. Keep the list with you for each home viewing you attend so you can constantly refer back to things you must have in your home stacked up against features that would be an added bonus.
So as you stare out into the field at the competition, you can feel confident you have done everything you can to prepare for this moment. You won’t always hit it out of the park. But sometimes all it takes is a blooper to right field. People often forget, but both of these hits have the potential to drive in that winning run.