Buying a home is an exciting, but stressful time.
I should know. I’ve been through the home buying process twice before. First in 2008 and again in 2010.
I paid off the $86,000 mortgage on the latest property in two years.
Both times, I learned a lot. I was only 23 when I bought my first place. There were a few roadblocks, but I made it through.
I wanted to share a few takeaways from my experience:
The bank will look at your financial picture and magically come up with an amount you can borrow.
Your real estate agent will ask you to get pre-qualified before visiting homes.
They want to make sure that if you like a property and choose to submit an offer, you’ll have a strong offer.
The problem is, the bank may qualify you for well over your budget.
I think people run into trouble when they let the bank set their budget instead of doing it themselves.
You know what you can afford, not the bank.
CHOOSING A REALTOR
If you don’t know a reputable real estate agent, ask around. There are good and bad ones, like any profession.
Realtors are working on commission. They have a financial incentive to sell you the highest-priced home as quickly as possible.
Some may steer you towards certain properties, like their other listings. Mine did.
Do your homework. Location, specifications and price. This decision is too important to let someone else manage it.
Trust your gut, but never trust a real estate agent 100%.
IS IT A BUYER’S OR SELLER’S MARKET?
When I bought my most recent home in 2010, there was plenty of inventory on the market. No one was buying.
Now, as your agent will tell you, it’s a seller’s market.
So, if you find a home that you truly love, you need to be prepared to put in a competitive offer, ASAP.
If your offer isn’t solid, the seller might not bother responding.
MEETING THE MORTGAGE GUY (OR GAL)
Your real estate agent may have a relationship with a preferred mortgage lender. Shop multiple lenders anyway.
I got a 15-year mortgage on my most recent home purchase.
The monthly payments were higher, but manageable. I was able to save 0.50% compared to a 30-year loan.
Have the lender run the numbers to see what works for you.
THE BOARD INTERVIEW
If you’re going to be living in a co-op, be prepared for a grilling.
My previous home was in a co-op building. The board wanted to know about my personal life, my job and why I was moving.
Think of it like a job interview, but no questions off-limits.
After firing off questions to assess my financial and emotional stability, the board huddled for a few minutes.
I got the OK to proceed. Otherwise, the deal would have been off.
ISSUES WILL COME UP
After your offer is approved, don’t think you’ll spend the month or so before closing just packing your boxes.
You will receive multiple phone calls interrupting your day.
Papers you filled out weeks before will be misplaced and you’ll be asked to fax them right away.
Your real estate agent will blame everyone else.
You may doubt the mortgage lender will be able to get it together in time, but chances are they will.
At closing, you’ll sign your name 237 times or so.
Across the table from you will be the seller, or maybe not. Sometimes it’s only their real estate agent.
When all papers are signed, the seller hands you the keys– just like on TV.
What did you learn during the home buying process? Share it below or tweet me @MichaelSaves.