While it’s only January and the prime spring market is still a couple months away, it’s NOT too early to be prepping for your home search if you’d like to buy this year. Our market moves fast, and you will need to be ready to go when the home of your dreams hits the market. Here are three things you should be doing now:
1. Assess your financial situation & get pre-approved for a mortgage
- Determine your comfortable monthly housing budget
- Figure out how much you have available for a down payment and closing costs
- Connect with a reputable local lender and get pre-approved
Note that your choice of lender DOES matter — in our competitive market, there is great value in working with a well-known, reputable LOCAL bank or mortgage broker. The large national / international chain banks can be difficult to work with and *please please please* don’t use an app or online lender, as your offer will never be seriously considered with one of their pre-approvals. If you need guidance on finding a good lender, please get in touch — I’m happy to help.
2. Meet with a buyer agent
- Determine where you’ll be looking and find a good local agent
Talk to your local friends and family who’ve recently bought a home to see if they would recommend their agent — our market is VERY competitive, and a good buyer agent will give you a leg up in securing the home of your dreams. I am also happy to help, of course, and have a great network of agents in a variety of markets if you’re looking outside my area.
- Prepare for your meeting
You’ll have a more productive meeting if you’ve already reviewed and prioritized your housing needs/wants — here’s a link to a buyer questionnaire I use with my new clients to help us home in (excuse the pun!) on what will work for them.
- Get educated about the local market and homebuying process
Your agent should meet with you in person to discuss your wants and needs, educate you on the state of the market, and walk you through the steps in the homebuying process. The sooner you do this, the more prepared you will be and the smoother your home buying process, so best not to wait until you find your dream home, or you may miss out on it.
3. Get to know the inventory
- Get an MLS account
While there are some great home search sites out there, your agent should set you up with an account in MLS — while the user interface may not be as pretty as some of the other sites, it is a direct link to the site where agents enter their info and will give you the most current and accurate listings. It is also a great tool for communicating back-and-forth with your agent.
- View properties online &/or attend some open houses — even if you’re not really ready, having a feel for your options and a comfort level with market values will prove invaluable later.
If you do these three things now, you’ll be in good shape to buy a home this year — woohoo! Please reach out if you’d like my help with your search!