I get it. I was once a first-time homebuyer, too. It’s an exciting time and you can not wait to dive in and start looking at houses. Weekends that you used to spend lounging you now anxiously await the chance to tour properties.
You spend countless hours looking at properties and have all of your favorites saved, starred, and bookmarked. You call a real estate agent ready to see all of those homes in person not realizing you are making the number one mistake first-time homebuyers make. When you find a house you love you plan to contact a mortgage lender.
The most common mistake first-time homebuyers make is touring properties before getting mortgage pre-approval. Trust me on this one. I can give countless examples of buyers falling in love with a home only to find out that they either can’t get approved for a mortgage based on credit scores or debt; or that they are approved but for far less than they thought.
When speaking with a real estate agent, if you do not already have mortgage approval, a great agent can refer you to a list of lenders. Which lender you decide to go with is up to you. Lenders offer different rates and terms so it is important to shop around for a mortgage.
Knowing how much you can afford is the foundation of the home buying process. Which properties you tour with your agent is driven by this. It is also the guide for making an offer. You may want to stay within a budget lower than the amount you are approved by your lender. Clear and open communication with your agent is key.
A great agent will listen to your restrictions and ensure that the properties you see fall in line with that number. Flood zones and a MUD tax can make a house that initially seems affordable end up being hundreds of dollars per month above your preferred range.
Do not start the home buying process alone. Even if your timeline is months in the future or even unknown, it’s never too early to get an experienced agent on your side. It costs buyers nothing to hire an agent and great agents have a team of experts ready to work for you. Whether you need referrals for lenders, inspectors, insurance agents, lawn care, housekeepers, and more, the home buying process is simplified with a trusted local agent.