So far in this series we've talked about renting verses buying, credit, and finding a realtor. Today's blog post will be slightly more fun as we'll briefly talk about the pre-approval process and the house hunt!!
The Pre-Approval Process
Getting pre-approved is an important step in buying a house. It gives you a dollar amount that you shouldn't go over as well as shows potential buyers that you are serious when you look at their house. I thought getting pre-approved would take a long time, but honestly, it was less than 10 minutes max. My lender just asked some general questions about my family income, our price point as well as our social security numbers. Once we were pre-approved, we talked with our realtor and went looking for houses!
We did use our realtor's suggestion on whom to use as our mortgage lender, but you can use anyone you'd like. Always check out mortgage lenders reviews online or ask for a recommendation from friends/family. Be aware of what typical interest rates are in your state and find out the different options you may when it comes to getting a loan. A resource that I've mentioned before is the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau's – Owning a Home website.
**As a side note -- Just because you get pre-approved for a higher price point than you thought you could afford does not mean you should take it. Always think about your spending plan, and how much you can realistically afford. Remember to include maintenance and any emergency expenses in your budget for your new home as well! You don't want to get into a situation where you have to choose between your mortgage and other expenses! **
The house hunt for us started on a beautiful Sunday in March. Our realtor had 10 houses lined up for us to see at all price points. During this process, you'll find out more of what your needs, desires and deal breakers are. I learned that I didn't want my house on a busy street, a dishwasher was really important and I loved three season rooms! I never thought that on the first day we would find "the one" but we did. It was a home within our budget, and we really loved it. Just so we didn't jump into our decision we did sleep on it one night. (Which I highly recommend!) The next day we called our realtor and put in an offer.
The Offer and Counteroffer
With the help of our realtors, they pulled recent prices of homes in the neighborhood that had sold to give us an idea of what to offer. We sent in our first offer contingent on the home inspection, of course and it was rejected within the hour, but thankfully, they countered. With our next offer we wanted to show them we were serious and that we wanted the house, but we didn't want to offend them either. Then we waited… and they approved our offer! We couldn't believe we were going to be homeowners.
Just to recap – always get pre-approved before you go house hunting, it shows the sellers you are serious and realtors will feel more comfortable knowing what you can afford. Check out the interest rates in your area and find a mortgage lender you trust! When you go out with your realtor, be realistic, remember your needs, desires and deal breakers. If you do find a home you love, make an offer. Your realtors will help you through the offer and counter offer process, and hopefully you'll find the home of your dreams!
Next time we'll talk about the home inspection as well as a few other details I left out here!
This post continues a series on Sasha's journey through the puzzling world of buying a house for the first time. You can find other posts in the series by clicking Home Ownership in the Category list on the right side of this page.