5 Home Buying Must-Do’s
Every so often my wife forces me to go to work with her. She’s a real estate agent, and makes me sit with her at “open houses”. So I’m no novice to the ins and outs of the housing market. Other than spending a few hours in a strange home, where I can’t eat anything or surf the internet (usually password protected), it’s not that bad. And in recent weeks I’ve seen a definite uptick in the number of home buyers dropping in on these “open houses”. You can give much of the credit to the “perfect storm” of traditional spring buying season, mortgage rates around 5%, and those federal tax credits for homebuyers. I know of at least one realtor who’s so busy, her “head’s spinning”. And she’s loving it.
From the buyer’s viewpoint, the frantic process can also be head spinning. An article in USA Today (“5 Key Steps to Buying Your First Home, Tax Credits or No”) compiled “five tasks that Realtors, brokers and other housing experts say first-time home buyers should know how to do before getting into the market:” Here they are:
Get financials in order. Buyers should check their credit score, taxes, 401(k)s and other aspects of their financial situation to determine the maximum they’re comfortable affording for their monthly mortgage, utilities, maintenance, taxes and insurance.
Find a Realtor and start looking. To find a good Realtor, talk to friends, neighbors and co-workers. Referrals can be the best way to select someone. Make sure your choice has experience with the neighborhood and is a good negotiator.
Investigate the reputations of builders, condos. Buyers who are purchasing a new home should check out the reputation of the builder by getting information from the Better Business Bureau.
Make an offer and apply for a mortgage. There are myriad tips on making that final offer. While every local market is different, most economists say buyers are generally in the driver’s seat today. Fifty-three percent of homeowners believe a seller’s market is still two or more years away, according to a survey of 2,003 adults between March 30 and April 2 by American Express
Prepare for closing. At closing, first-time buyers get the keys to their new home. But there’s a lot to prepare first. They’ll have to get certified funds to cover closing costs and down payments (a settlement statement provided a day or two before closing will tell the buyer how much is needed). Homeowners insurance policies must be secured prior to closing as well. A closing cost estimate is provided after the application for the home loan spelling out what funds will be needed at closing..
I wouldn’t be too upset to get “fired” from my “second job” at “open houses”. Don’t think it’ll happen though. But if I have to go hungry at strange houses, with no internet access , at least there are more people coming through the doors now to meet. Good for the economy, good for my wife, so it’s good for me.