House Hunting is a Process.
How to start your house hunting. Wow. Where to begin? You want to buy a house. OK. Now what? So many things to consider. Where? When? How much can you afford? How big? What kind? Are schools important? What about neighborhood amenities? Commuting choices. Proximity to shopping, entertainment, worship, social events. What about lifestyle? Do you want a yard? Do you want to entertain guests? What about…?
Phew! Do you still want to buy a house? Don’t worry. The real estate industry has been around for a long, long time and each of the components — brokerage, lending, title examination and settlement services — exist to assist you in accomplishing your goal.
The place to start your house hunting is with a trusted real estate professional buyer’s agent. More than just a counselor, mentor and advocate, the professional real estate agent has a duty to protect your best interest and represent you as you go through the house buying process. Just as lawyers are engaged to represent the various sides in a courtroom, so too are real estate agents engaged to represent either the buyer or the seller in a real estate transaction. Are you required to use a professional agent? No. Are you required to hire a lawyer to represent you in a courtroom? No. The reason most people elect to do so is because buying a house (or being in a courtroom) is not an everyday experience. Maybe you’ve purchased houses in the past but laws and real estate markets change rapidly and frequently making house hunting easier and more complicated at the same time. Your agent will guide you through the necessary gates and wickets and educate you along the way to enable you to make informed decisions.
Expect your agent to invite you to come into the office. Most offices are warm and inviting “no-threat” places that have all the necessary technologies and expertise to get you started in your house hunting quest. A full-service brokerage office may even have an on-site loan officer to answer any mortgage related questions. Getting to know your agent — and letting your agent get to know you — is critical to establishing the kind of trusted relationship you want. Your agent will want to know such things as: why are you looking now, how soon do you need to be in your new place, what location is most appealing to you, how much of a house do you need or want and, most important, how much house can you afford? Some folks are able to pay cash for their house but most home buyers will get a mortgage loan (sometimes called a deed of trust). This is when a nearby loan officer comes in handy because you’ll need a mortgage loan “Pre-Approval Letter” before you start house hunting. The letter can come from any valid lender. The letter is necessary for two reasons: first, you’ll want to know how much money a mortgage company is willing to lend to you based on your financial situation. You might even be surprised to learn you qualify for more than you need! Second, when you find a house that you want, you and your agent will put together a purchase offer that will include your pre-approval letter. Sellers want to know that you are qualified to make an offer and will rarely accept just your assurance. A third-party objective review of your ability to pay is a requirement in today’s real estate market.
Is this the only way to start your house hunting? Absolutely not. It’s the way I’m recommending. You can search online for houses and loans and submit an offer sight unseen for the house of your dreams. And hope the seller is as honest, competent and motivated as you are. Good luck with that.
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Till next time…slainte.