A Special Report for Home Buyers from The Pujals Team, Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley
Buying a home has always been the cornerstone of the American dream. The white picket fence …. The large yard …. The pride of home ownership … It’s one of the underlying human desires that unite us.
Over the years, we at The Pujals Team have helped thousands of buyers find the home of their dreams. And one thing we’ve observed is that many home buyers enter the process filled with questions and in need of a step-by-step plan on how to proceed. Even though technology has certainly made it easier to see homes that are for sale, the sheer volume of options is often overwhelming. As a result, many home buyers find the process stressful. Our goal is to change that!
Undoubtedly, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases most people will ever make. Knowing this, it’s important that you take the right approach to the home buying process. Following are the top 5 tips for making the home buying process easier.
Get pre-approved before you start your home search
Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or have purchased multiple homes in the past, before you start your new home search, always get your mortgage pre-approval lined up first. Realize there’s a big difference between being pre-qualified and being pre-approved. Many home buyers think these terms are interchangeable, but they are not.
Pre-qualification means you have supplied a lender with some basic information, such as your income, debts, and assets. You may have given the details via phone or on an online form. Everything is based solely on what you tell the lender, as there’s no verification or credit pull. Since nothing is verified, your pre-qualification amount is likely to change, and it may be given verbally as a price range rather than an exact amount.
Pre-approval, on the other hand, means you have gone a step further. You have completed a mortgage application, paid any applicable fees, supplied documentation to prove your income, and have authorized a credit report be pulled. Because you’ve given the lender permission to review and verify your information, your pre-approval amount is often in writing and for an exact amount that isn’t likely to change.
While pre-qualification is a good start, being pre-approved will make your home buying search more productive and often less stressful.
Make a list of “must-have” and “nice-to-have” features
Once you know what you are pre-approved for, get clear about what’s possible within your budget. What features do you want your new home to have? Which neighborhoods typically have homes in your price range? How far are you willing to commute?
As you think about what you’d like your new home to have and where it should be located, consider such things as:
- The number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Lot size
- Yard features, such as a pool, deck, or fence
- Interior options, such as a fireplace, finished basement, or central AC
- Age of home
- The amount of “fixing up” you’re willing to do
Based on your budget figure out which items are on your “must-have” list and which would be “nice to have” but are not deal breakers. Be realistic with your list. While a yard that has a private tennis court would be awesome for sure, it may not be realistic for the average budget.
Go to open houses
Visiting open houses is a great way to see what’s available in your price range. The key is to be strategic about your open house visits.
If the house meets the items on your “must-have” list, make sure you take the time to really look at the home: open closet doors, check the ceilings, peek behind furniture and under throw rugs, take measurements. Yes, it may feel strange looking through a stranger’s closet or peeking behind their shower curtain, but this may be your one and only time to see the home before you make an offer.
Next, take note of the neighborhood. Loving the neighborhood is just as important as loving the home. As you drive up to the home, look at the other houses. Are they of similar style and value? How are the exteriors? Is it a neighborhood you feel comfortable in? Remember that you can’t change the neighborhood once you move in, so make sure it’s one you’d want to live in and is convenient for you.
Finally, ask the agent on duty lots of questions. Some of the most important questions to ask are:
- Are there any offers on the home? How many?
- How long has the home been on the market?
- Why are the sellers moving?
- When was the home built? What has been updated since then?
Buying a home is a major investment. Having critical information before you make an offer will ensure you’re making the best financial decision.
Partner with a trusted Realtor
Working with a Realtor as early as possible gives you many advantageous in the home buying process. Realize that Realtors do so much more than simply unlock doors. Did you know that when you hire a Realtor, that person has a fiduciary responsibility to you? That means you have someone on your side, legally obligated to look out for your best financial interests. In other words, your Realtor will do everything in their power to protect you. That alone is a huge advantage for home buyers.
Additionally, because Realtors see many houses and have experienced situations you may never have considered, your Realtor can give you home advice that goes beyond aesthetics. While an agent can’t talk about neighborhood demographics or crime rates, they can point out issues with building materials, help you see where a room addition could be put, offer guidance with price negotiation, and provide a strategy that can make you positively stand out to a seller. Think of your Realtor as a trusted advisor whose number one goal is to help you have a successful transaction and home buying experience.
Go in with your best offer
Once you’ve found a home you love, make sure your offer to buy is solid and appealing to the seller. Years ago, it used to be common for buyers to come in with “low-ball” offers, with the belief that sellers would always negotiate and the two parties would meet somewhere in the middle. That is not the case anymore.
Work with your Realtor to ensure your offer is presented in the best light. This is when having that pre-approval from your lender will be crucial. You don’t want to get to the offer point and find out you can’t qualify for the loan. Remember, too, that there may be multiple offers for the home. Therefore, be prepared to raise your offer price (if possible). You may never get a second chance to make your offer on your dream home; therefore, make sure your first offer is the best it can possibly be.
Home Buyers: Your New Home Awaits
Buying a home doesn’t have to be a stressful process. When you follow the tips outlined here, you can rest assured that you will find the best home for you and your family.
Let us help you find the perfect home. When you’re ready to begin the home buying process, contact us 707.249.0518 or firstname.lastname@example.org.