You did all of your homework. You contacted a lender and you know your price limitations. You honed in your wants and needs, determined your desired locations to live. Your weapons sharpened you are ready for the hunt. Scouting is the next step. Not too long ago newspapers and magazines were your best choices to find a new house. Today the internet is king and by far the best place to start the search. Most folks sit in their home offices, usually at night, when the kids are asleep with a cup of coffee or a glass of their favorite Pinot in front of a computer screen clicking away on one site after another. There are many web sites to choose. Some of the more popular ones are, Trulia, Zillow, Homefinder and Realtor.com. All you must do is write in a location input the price range and a few other details and bam, a whole page of available houses appear. Seems so easy yet you must take care. Unfortunately, independent listing websites are not monitored for quality and on some of these sites; anyone can post a home for sale. The hunter may find the perfect abode only to discover the house sold two months ago or you may find a fictional abode. Some unscrupulous Realtors place false advertisements on these sites only to get your business, when you call the Realtor accompanying the listing for a showing, he or she will tell you “sorry it just sold; however I know a few like this one I can show you.” I have heard stories of Realtors placing a ‘for sale’ sign in front of their own homes they are not intending to sale and snapping a photo to place on the web to get business. Not all Realtors are like this; however, there are a few bad eggs. Not all web listings are bad; the prudent hunter needs to be aware of the pitfalls. Realtor.com is the best search website on the net. Realtor.com gains their information from the MLS (Multiple Listing Services) even so you must verify.
This is a good time to find a Realtor. A Realtor who is connected with the MLS can verify if the web listings are true. They can also set you up to receive fresh listings by email. A Realtor will take the information you gathered and place it in the MLS to limit the search to your criteria. The houses you receive are true with no worries of expired or fraudulent homes. A Realtor who misrepresents a listing on the MLS might be , or banished. If you are not ready to seek a Realtor, another good place to search is on brokerage sites. Some of the major brokerages in North Texas include, Prudential, Century Twenty-one, Keller-Williams to name a few. Most brokerages have reciprocity agreements with competing brokerages to display houses. The listings on brokerages sites feed directly from the MLS and are true. Craig’s List and the Green Sheet websites also advertise homes, however again be aware of fraudulent Sellers.
The internet is a powerful tool. Over 37% of hunters start the hunt searching on the internet. Another 38% start with a Real Estate Professional who also uses the internet. With so much information on houses at your fingertips, the hunter should have no problems scouting for the perfect castle. …See ya down the road. http://www.djlyons-realtor.com
You have your pre-qualification letter; better yet, you went ahead and applied for a pre-approval letter. You know the limitations the lender has placed on you concerning how much you can spend on a home. So, what is the next step? The lender has shown you how much of a loan you can qualify for; however that may not be how much you really want to spend. The next step is to budget. Collect monthly bills from the last six months. Compare your monthly expenses with your monthly income. Include estimated grocery, gas, eating out and any other type of expense. Determine how much of a monthly payment you can afford. There are several good, free mortgage calculators on the internet, better yet contact your lender and he or she will give you a monthly payment estimate you can work backwards from there to determine how much you can spend. Include the down payment in your calculations. This step will save you from wasting time looking at houses you cannot afford plus save you from any heartbreak if you fall in love with a an abode that is financially out of reach.
Now the fun begins. This next step will focus you for the hunt. As any good hunter, you must determine your prey, study its characteristics, and recognize the beast so when the right one comes along you can pull the trigger. To hone in on the target, I suggest making a list. Get a blank piece of paper, notebook paper is fine. On the top, write the maximum price you can afford to spend on your new castle. Leave the first three lines blank and draw a line down the center of the paper to create two columns. On the lines above list the areas you would like to live, perhaps the location of work, good schools, affordable neighborhoods, or just preferences. Include different counties, towns, or subdivisions. These two lines will focus on your hunting territory. Over one column place the title “Needs” and over the second column use the title “Wants.” Under the “Needs” heading, list everything you need in a home. Some examples could include acreage, how many bedrooms, the number of baths, square feet, swimming pool or no swimming pool, age of house, trees on the lot. The “Needs” list are items you cannot live without. When you are searching for a home on the internet or doing a walk through you have a basis to eliminate the listing. If the abode has all of your “Needs,” you may consider jumping on it and making an offer. The “Wants” column is for niceties. Things you do not need but if the listing has it all the better. You would not necessarily eliminate the house however; you may keep an eye out for something better, and if the something better is nowhere to be found, possibly this one is for you. These items might include trees, pools, spas, privacy fence, dedicated library etc. When searching for a used home there is some give and take. If you cannot distinguish your “Needs” from your “Wants,” an existing abode may not be what you are looking for and maybe time to consider new construction.
Even though you have everything written down, the list is not in concrete. As you search, your tastes might change. You may list a basement as a “Need” you would soon discover basements are not common in North Texas due to the clay soils. You may find a couple but not many and you may want to adjust your “Needs.” Sometimes you may see a “Want” in a particular house and decide that is not for you, and that is okay, remove the item from the list. Maybe you want to expand your search area or situations have changed so you can increase/decrease your maximum price. The list will simplify things and make it easier to make a logical choice on your new abode and help you pare down the choices. The next Blog will focus on how to hunt…See ya down the road. http://www.djlyons-realtor.com
Maybe you outgrew your current home or you need to down size. For some it could be time for a first home, for others a relocation is the reason to start the hunt. The process of finding and purchasing a home can be daunting. This series of BLOGS will focus on buying homes. What a house hunter needs to do to find the perfect abode, what to do when you find one, what documents you need to sign and what the buyer needs to do while waiting for the contract to close.
The first thing any diligent house hunter needs to do is to find a lender. I can hear everyone already…find a lender. I have not even started to look for a home yet and you want me to find a lender? Yes, find a lender! With a lender, you can determine how much you can spend on your new castle. At the very least, you need a pre-qualification letter to submit with any offer you make. Stronger yet is a pre-approval letter. What is the difference between the two? A pre-qualifying is the first step and is usually free. The lender will require info such as income, debt, and assets. With this info, he will determine how much home you may be able to buy depending on final credit checks and verification. The letter is submitted with the offer, however, you are not in a strong position. It is much better to obtain a pre-approval letter. A pre-approval is the next step; you must fill out an actual application for a loan, pay an application fee, and submit other documents verifying employment and income. A credit check occurs and you will receive a letter stating the actual amount you can borrow. All things considered equal if a Seller receives an offer with a pre-approval letter and another for the exact amount and terms with a pre-qualification letter the Seller will choose the Buyer with the pre-approval letter every time.
Knowing how much home you can afford is an important first step and will save you from wasting time and the disappointment of finding and falling in love with a house that is not affordable. Being aware of your price limits will also streamline the search. In addition, many Realtors will not even show homes without at least a pre-qualification letter and the way the market is now, it is much better to have one in hand to submit an offer right away then to wait to obtain a letter. To be a good hunter the hunter must be prepared and it is no different with house hunting, find some more info on my website: http://www.djlyons-realtor.com. See ya down the road.