Consider these tips when you begin your search to buy property. For more in depth assistance or for an answer to any questions, contact me. I can assist whether you are looking to buy investment property or purchase an owner-occupied home.
Unless you are planning to make a cash purchase, the first step before buying property should always be to speak to a mortgage lender. The one exception to this rule is if you would like a referral to a trusted professional. My list of preferred lenders will answer any questions and assist you with the pre-approval process.
The reason for speaking to a mortgage lender first is because you will want to be pre-approved before you begin your search to buy property. Keep in mind that being pre-qualified is not the same as it is a less formal and non-binding step in the pre-approval process. If you have been pre-approved, the lender has analyzed your financials and credit score before offering you a conditional commitment for an exact loan amount in written form. This will not be the case with being pre-qualified which is nothing more than the lender’s initial belief of the amount you will be approved for but without investigating the financial information you provide or running your credit score. The benefits to being pre-approved are threefold:
- Your offer will be viewed by a seller as serious and more likely to result in a closed sale, especially with lending requirements remaining tight.
- You will save time after submitting an offer because it will not be contingent on obtaining financing.
- You can avoid going through the process of writing an offer and entering escrow only to find out later you are not able to obtain the financing and having to start your search from scratch.
If you decide to begin your search to buy property online, keep in mind the estimates provided by large websites using algorithms are no substitute for a knowledgeable Realtor. A qualified and experienced Realtor is able to factor in data as needed and evaluate each property on individual qualities even when they do not factor into a mathematical equation. These estimates do have their place and Zillow’s pricing estimates are provided with all the property listings on my site, but they should be viewed as a starting point for educating yourself with the real estate market rather than hard and fast valuations of a property for sale.
Before seeing properties for sale with your Realtor, get a good night’s sleep and avoid sugars since both affect memory. In order to recall properties, you should bring a camera and a way to take notes whether you prefer a notepad, iPad/tablet, or your phone. Start each home tour with a photo of the front of the house and the house number so you are able to keep track of which photos correspond with each property. End each tour by taking notes on the home. Make a pro/con list, rate it on a star system, or write down your general impressions, but keep in mind the more details you write while the property is fresh in your head, the better you will be able to recall the home later. A best practice is to write your notes before driving to the next property or on the way to the next location if your Realtor is driving you to see multiple properties.
When you go back over your notes and look at the photos, try to choose a few favorites. Ask yourself, “What do each of these properties offer?” Do not feel pressured into selecting your first choice right then and there. Once you have narrowed it down to a manageable list of two, three, or four properties, schedule an appointment to see these top choices again with your Realtor. The ideal scenario would be to see one property after another since that will allow you to compare and contrast while the homes are fresh in your mind.
If you are worried about your new home retaining value in any real estate market, buy property near areas and institutions that will provide a steady supply of buyers regardless of when you decide to sell your property: prestigious hospitals and universities, large corporate or government employers, recently developed or revitalized central business districts, and public transportation.
My final piece of advice is simple yet often ignored by both seasoned and first-time buyers: When you find the right property, buy it. Buying property is not like shopping for clothing at the mall and it should not be treated as such. After finding a pair of shoes you love, you can afford to browse each store in the mall before going back to the first store because they have a couple of pairs in your size or they can hold that last pair until you come back. Real estate is unique and sellers cannot afford to hold their property for you regardless of how much they like you. Buy the property if it is right because the chances are it will be right for someone else too. And if it is, it may be gone when you circle back.
Begin your search to buy property by making use of my real estate website as a resource and contact me with any questions or to schedule a showing.