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Real Estate Agent Selling House to Young Couple

As of June 25, 2018, we’ve made some changes to the way our mortgage approvals work. You can read more about our Power Buyer ProcessTM.

You’re finally ready.

Well, at least you think you’re ready.

At the very least, you’re starting to entertain the idea of purchasing your first home. But you have questions, and you’re not sure where to turn to for advice – look no further, because we talked to a couple of real estate agents to get some helpful advice with first time home buyers (FTHB) in mind.

Get Preapproved

Real estate agents Joe Delia and Rosanna Rivera both agree that the first and most important step a FTHB should take is to get preapproved through a mortgage lender. Once you have a preapproval letter in hand, you can do a couple of things.

“The first step is getting preapproved through a lender in order to better understand what you can afford and what programs your credit allows you to qualify for,” Delia explained.

“Once you understand that, then you can get in touch with a (real estate agent) to establish your criteria you’d like in a home.”

Rivera adds that having a preapproval also will help a house hunter “identify their priorities.” Once a FTHB has an idea how much they can spend, they can narrow down which of their “must haves” match the amount they were preapproved for.

When getting your preapproval from a lender, it’s also a good time to get information about rates and your options for different type of loans. Delia recommends to “Talk to your lender as to what your goals are with your mortgage and lean on them for advice. Try to be open-minded. A 30-year fixed (mortgage) doesn’t always make sense.”

Rivera agrees, saying that you should “consult with your banker on the different loan programs and down payments.” She also suggests making a spreadsheet to compare all of the different programs.

Find an Agent and a House

After you get your preapproval, the next thing to do is find an agent and start looking at homes as soon as possible. “The homes that you see today may not be around tomorrow,” Rivera warns.

Ask friends and family members if they would recommend the real estate agent they used. If you don’t have any recommendations, Delia suggests to “do your homework” and find someone that “has high ratings online.”

Most likely you have heard the house hunting cliché “Location, location, location.” And with good reason – it’s the most important thing to keep in mind when looking at a home. It’s the only thing you really can’t change, and Rivera encourages all of her FTHB to be sure to drive around and check out the area’s amenities. “Is the home in close proximity to hospitals, grocery stores and highways? Good schools? All of these are very important.”

She also suggests that when buying a home, it’s important to keep in mind how easy it will be to sell down the road.

It’s important to remember that your preapproval letter is only good for 90 days. If your house hunt takes longer than that, you’ll need to get your preapproval letter renewed.

If you don’t find a home within that first 90 days, it’s OK. Taking some time isn’t unusual. Rivera advises FTHB not to give up. “We will find a home, it just takes time.”

Make an Offer

Once you do find a home you want, it’s time to put in an offer.

When putting in an offer, Delia warns “Don’t get caught up in the emotions of negotiations. Follow your agent’s advice but stay true to your values.”

It’s also important to make an offer that is truly your “very best” and to “submit your offer as if there are multiple offers.” It will help avoid feeling discouraged if your offer isn’t accepted, because you’ll know that you offered the best you could.

Get a Home Inspection

Best-case scenario, you won’t have to worry about that and your offer will be accepted. If so, something that you’ll have to do before closing is to get a home inspection. You’ll hire a professional who will come out and ensure that there aren’t any major issues with the house. They’ll also let you know of non-major things to keep an eye on.

During the inspection it’s a good idea to ask questions and learn as much as you can. You’re paying for the inspection out-of-pocket, so make sure to get your money’s worth.

Delia and Rivera recommend paying attention to key info during the inspection; namely, the lifespan of major things like the roof, air conditioner, furnace, plumbing and electrical.

Delia says “People get caught up in kitchens and bathrooms…” but they should more focused on “the age of the mechanicals.” In addition to finding out their age, find out how much longer you can expect them to last and how much it costs to replace them.

Time to Close

If all goes well, you’ll finally be ready for closing. This is when Rivera suggests to a home buyer to “compare secure homeowners insurance” and “decide if they want to order a home warranty.”

After closing, there are some small things to keep in mind, like changing the locks and sending out new address notifications.

The house hunt can be long and frustrating, and there may even be times when you’ll want to give up­. But with a good agent and a trusted lender, you’ll be able to get through it. You’ll be glad you did, because as Rivera likes to remind her clients “Buying a home is one of the most important and rewarding decisions … a true American dream.”

This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. One of the most important tips for first time home buyers is to ensure that you can actually afford a new house, unlike renting an apartment owning a house is a completely different financial responsibility. Second, you must have enough amount of cash for your down payment, lenders prefers that you must possess around 20% of your down payment at the time of purchase. Thirdly, work towards improving your credit score as it determined the mortgage that you will be be offered and the interest rate you will have to pay for the loan. Lastly, look for a reliable and trustworthy real estate agent who would guide you throughout the whole process.

  2. For first time home buyers must need to have a patience and view more and more homes but if they want quick move homes then go for the new but if looking for the already build then wait and wait until they don’t get best.

  3. It’s good to know that a pre-approval can help me understand what I can afford. I’d like to move into a new home, but I can’t quite figure out how to set up a budget. What exactly does it take to get pre-approved for a home?

    1. Hi Finley:

      That’s an excellent question. We take a look at your income, the assets in your bank account and other accounts and pull your credit to get an idea of your credit score as well as your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Those are the major items. If you would like to get an online preapproval, you can do so through Rocket Mortgage. If you’d rather get started over the phone, one of our Home Loan Experts would be happy to take your call at (888) 980-6716.

      Kevin Graham

  4. I love what you said about when you put in an offer, you can’t get caught up in the emotions of negotiations. Like you said, it’s good to follow your agent’s advice but stay true to your values. I’ve heard that many people end up spending more than their budget allows because they simply become too attached to the home. You can’t get emotionally attached until the home is officially your’s! I’ll have to keep this info in mind as my wife and I are doing our best to stay within our budget as we look for a new home!

  5. I’ll have to keep in mind that are closing to change the locks and send our new address notifications! My parents, one time, forgot to do this and the packages for Christmas this year went to the wrong house. We will be sure to make sure these little details are taken care of!

  6. I had no idea that you could get preapproved for a loan from your lender; that’s really nice! It would definitely be nice to have the financial details mostly covered once you’re ready to actually buy a house. You can just pull out your preapproved loan, and start making offers. I’ll definitely be sure to try getting preapproved before shopping for a new home.

  7. I really like what was said when it comes to finding real estate for sale. I can see the best thing to do in my family’s situation is to find a real estate agent that will suit my needs. I love what was said in this article about this.

  8. Can one sell a property with more than one real estate company at once? I live in the Cayman Islands and I have a house that I’m about to put on the market, and I was just wondering if I can use more than one real estate company to maximize exposure to potential buyers? I’m thinking of using this company. (URL removed) but they seem to have some sort of “exclusive” policy so I am reluctant. Any real estate agents here with advice? I know this article is about buying a house, but I thought someone here might know the answer to this. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jonathon:

      Unfortunately, we only do loans in the US. I’m not sure about the laws in the Cayman Islands concerning the listing of properties.

      Kevin Graham

  9. I really like the tip “don’t get caught up in the emotions of negotiations. Follow your agent’s advice but stay true to your values.” My husband and I have been wanting to buy our first home for the past few months now so we have been doing a lot of hunting. We have made a few offers on different homes and it definitely helps to not get caught up in the emotion of it all. I think that these tips will really help us as we continue our search, thanks for sharing!

  10. That’s interesting that people don’t focus on the mechanicals as much as they should. Appliances tend to be a pricey buy most of the time. I think before I really hire a real estate agent I should get a home inspection to make sure everything is in order.

    1. Hi Skylar:

      There’s no reason to get the home inspection before hiring a real estate agent. Generally, the real estate agent is there to help you find the house.

      Kevin Graham

  11. #2 Finding an agent could be a difficult task. But make sure you hire an agent who has a good experience of your local real estate.

  12. Now that my husband has a new job and is out of school we are finally ready to get our first home. The problem with that is, we are worried that our credit score may be low, due to some loans we’ve taken out for school. I’ll have to try getting preapproved and then hopefully I’ll be able to find an agent.

    1. Hi Jessie:

      We can definitely help you look into your options and see if there’s anything we can do to help you get your credit score up. In the meantime, here’s a blog post with some tips on getting your credit score ready for mortgage approval.

      Kevin Graham

      1. Students loans are keeping me from getting a loan for a new house. I have fair credit and I went through erates.com and was told that my dtr. was a hundred percent over because of the students loans. I wish they didn’t affect life’s attempted progressions.

        1. Hi Kimberly:

          I’m going to have someone reach out to you about this and help go over any options you may have. Even if we can’t help you, we may be able to give you some advice on the best steps to move forward.

          Kevin Graham

  13. I like the point that you made about getting a home inspection. I imagine that an inspection can help the real estate purchase be a lot more headache free. I would prefer to have the peace of mind of knowing there aren’t any major issues that you mentioned. I will be sure to follow these tips as I look into finding quality real estate in my area.

  14. I am a First time buyer. I am looking in the North Central West Virginia Area. My main criteria is It Must Be Wheelchair accessable for my Significant other. He has been in a wheelchair since 2003 and most of the homes for sale in this area are not meeting these qualifications. Our situation is not the normal but I would like for both of us and our 3 grown children to have a place of our own to call home and where everyone could be comfortable. Thank you for your assistance in this search. Also we live on a lower income and would like to know how to begin.

    1. Hi Michelle:

      You’ve hit a topic near and dear to my heart. I’m in an electric wheelchair myself and you would not believe the amount of marks on my walls because the hallways in my house are quite wide enough for my sometimes less than stellar driving ability. This is definitely a point you can bring up with the real estate agent. Hardwood floors also might be easier with the wheels. As far as financing, I’m going to have someone reach out and help you look into your mortgage options.

      Kevin Graham

    2. Hi Michelle,

      Regarding your post on 4/20/16:

      If you have not yet found a housing solution, you may want to reach out to your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. They frequently build ADA homes with zero step entry, barrier free bathrooms, wider hallways, ramps with the appropriate rise:run ratio, etc. They can be found with a quick Google search or by visiting http://www.habitat.org

      Good luck,

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