Congrats! You completed the mortgage pre-approval process – great job! It’s time to start your home search! While you you have mostly been working with your mortgage lender up until this point, it is now time to pick up the phone and speak with your REALTOR®. Your REALTOR® is the person to help guide you down the winding road of finding your first home! But how do you start with the search?
Here are some things to ask yourself:
- Is there a specific location that I need to stay within for work, school, or recreational reasons?
- How many bedrooms or how much space do I really need?
- What is my price range? (You may have been pre-approved for a certain amount, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want to spend that much money!)
- What size yard do I want?
These are just a few items in a list that could go on and on when you are starting your home search. Sit down and write out a list. Do you prefer hardwood floors and no carpet? Is a pool in the backyard a deal-breaker? Do you want a fence? A golf course view? Write it down! The more information you give your REALTOR®, the better. Just keep in mind that you likely need to prioritize that list or make two lists – a NEEDS and a WANTS list.
Next comes the fun part! Once priorities have been communicated and your REALTOR® has done some research, it is time to see homes in person or by virtual tour. It’s a great idea to view photos and virtual tours before venturing out just in case you can tell right away that something won’t work for you! Your REALTOR® will provide basic information on each home, such as the year it was built, square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, lot size, etc. As you go through each home, take notes about features that catch your eye, both positive and negative. You will want to have something to go back and refer to when narrowing down your choices!
Notice the layout, walk it a few times, envision yourself living in this house. Notice the size of the rooms. How much work are you willing to put into the home? Is the work required cosmetic (paint, flooring, wallpaper) or is it structural (walls, stairs, floor plan)? Do you need to get estimates on the prices of these items before further consideration? Think about the yard size. Is the yard sloped or does it have a steep grade? There is a lot to consider!
Once you have narrowed your list down to three or four homes, schedule a time with your REALTOR® to view your top choices again. Take your time this time through – some of my clients have decided after the first visit that “this is it, this is the home.” Unless it is a home that is just going to fly off the market, I highly encourage clients to view the home a second time before making a final decision. In this hot seller’s market, you may not get this luxury. Be prepared to make decisions quickly or know that your purchase options may change daily.
What happens if you have seen everything that fits your requirements and you don’t like anything? Hang on for the ride! Sometimes starting your home search takes some time. A house that wasn’t on the market today may be on the market tomorrow. Your REALTOR® will constantly be looking at homes new to the market and will keep you updated. Our job as REALTORS® is to help. We can even target your criteria and hope to find someone willing to sell that has not yet listed their home. We work hard to find what you need! This is one of the biggest purchases you will make, and you should take your time, see all of your options, and make an informed decision.