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As a first-time homebuyer, there are eight ways you can set yourself ahead during your home search.
1. Work with an experienced Realtor. Make sure you work with an agent who has performed multiple transactions in the past. We all have friends and family members who are agents, but it’s much better to work with someone who will best fill your needs. Though your friends and family members may have the best of intentions, working with them in a professional sense can cause some tension.
2. Get pre-approved for a loan. When you contact your lender and turn in your financial information, the bank will provide you with an amount you are pre-approved for. This will give you a good idea of what you can afford during your home search. When writing an offer you might actually send a copy of your pre-approval letter to the seller. This shows them that you’re qualified to purchase the home.
3. Talk to neighborhood landlords. Finding a home to buy can be a little tricky in a competitive market. If you are looking in a specific area, call local landlords to find out if they’re thinking of listing any of their rental properties in as single-family homes in the future. This can help you find homes that haven’t hit the market yet.
4. Consider a fixer-upper home. Looking at homes that need a little work opens up a lot of options for you as a buyer. However, it’s important not to take on more than you can chew. Don’t purchase a home that needs more work than you can fit within your budget.
5. Look slightly outside your targeted neighborhood. Here in Vancouver, Washington, a lot of people tend to congregate toward the east and north sides of the city. But, there are equally desirable homes in equally desirable neighborhoods just slightly outside of these parts of town. Less competitive areas can also help you find a better deal on a home.
6. Consider a transitional neighborhood. During your home search, you should consider looking at older neighborhoods or industrial areas that are undergoing a transformation. If you can get into a transitioning neighborhood before it’s fully reached its potential, you’ll be able to get a great deal.
7. Consider raising your budget. The figure you and your lender initially discussed is not the end-all, be-all. If you begin looking at homes only to realize that your budget needs more room, you can certainly go back and talk to your lender about your options. If you look at a loan that is $10,000 above your initial cap, for example, that would only mean an extra $50 per month in terms of mortgage payments.
8. Revisit your lender. If you have been unsuccessful in making offers, it’s time to have a conversation with your lender about how to strengthen your offers or about changing your loan type.
If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.