Start Looking For New Homes How to Start the Home Buying Process Congratulations are in order if you’re about to embark on the exciting adventure of home ownership! If you’re trying to figure out where to start, let us help! There are a few things you can do to get yourself organized before you even think about talking to a mortgage counselor or a real estate agent. Step 1: Check your credit Before you call a mortgage counselor, it’s important to know your credit score. By law, are able to check your credit score for free one time per year. Check out our guide to optimizing your credit score for detailed information, but a visit to Credit Karma’s website to get your free credit report is a great place to start. Be careful to always read the fine print when dealing with free credit report sites, as some will ask for a credit card and charge you for membership or a fee. Credit scores usually range between 300 to 850 – the higher your score, the better. Check for any errors on your report. If you find any, be sure to dispute them right away. Step 2: Know your budget Look at your current financial situation – your savings account, bills, budget, loans and salary. Take a look at this tool from MarketWatch http://www.marketwatch.com/tools/homeafford to figure out how much you feel like you could comfortably pay each month on a mortgage. It’s important to start by assessing your current situation before talking to a mortgage company about how much you “could” afford. When considering a budget, you should consider the benefits associated with home ownership (http://www.homes.org/resource/what-s-next-for-new-homeowners/tax-benefits-of-buying-a-home ). Step 3: Find a Mortgage Company If you’re serious about buying a home, getting pre-approved by a mortgage counselor for a loan – is an important next step. SIRVA Mortgage might be a good option for you, if you’re looking for a company that will shop and find the best rates for you, has fast approvals and paperwork and will help you save money. Our counselors are available to discuss your options with you and help you along the way. You can call 800-531-3837 to talk with our team or start the pre-approval process online. Step 4: Get Pre-Approved Getting pre-approved will help you in a number of ways. First, it will help you set a realistic budget for how much you can afford. It’s never a good idea to start looking at houses without knowing your budget – it can lead to disappointment and heartache in the end. The second thing pre-approval does, is it let’s the home sellers know you’re serious about purchasing their home. Step 5: Find a Good Real Estate Agent Finding a good real estate agent is essential to the new home buying experience. Some real estate agents have their own “incentive-induced” agenda at hand, when showing you homes they are trying to sell. However, a good real estate agent will certainly understand your vision of your ideal home, and present you with homes for sell, that meet your specific criteria. Another aspect of finding a real estate agent is to weigh their experience in their field. You want to hire a real estate agentthat has longevity as an agent, as they will know all the ins and outs of the local real estate market, helping you to maximize the sale price of your home while getting your home sold more quickly than an inexperienced agent. Step 6: Research On-Line for that Ideal Home: As your real estate agenthunts for that perfect home for you, you can do a little research yourself, and possibly find that ideal home on-line. There are some really good sites on the internet that list homes for sell, based on your own specific input. You can choose from a variety of menu items like the number of bedrooms you need, fireplaces, number of baths, family rooms or basements and variably sized garages. Once you find what you are looking for, share your discovery with your realtor, and perhaps they can get you an appointment to see that home, or perhaps find one that is very similar to it. Here are a few links you may want to check out while looking on-line for your ideal home: Zillow.com Trulia.com Realtor.com Homes.com BEST HOUSE HUNTING CHECKLISTS When buying a home it’s important to look at all aspects of the home to make sure it’s in tip-top shape. If you’re buying an older home, you’ll probably notice more things that need to be updated. Either way, keeping a running checklist of things that need to be fixed will be a good way start to your negotiations with the seller. We searched online to find the best house hunting checklists. All you’ll need to do is download each and print them for your next appointment. These checklists will offer some tips for things to checkout while you’re hunting – and it will hopefully save you some money in the long run. Homes.com: Offers a comprehensive list of interior and exterior things to look at when searching for a home. It’s easy to follow layout offers fill in the blank and “yes/no” options – so you can compare apples-to-apples when you’re looking at multiple homes (see example image above): https://www.pinterest.com/pin/196891814931735589/ Newconstructionrebateprogram.com: Offers a fairly basic fill-in-the-blank format and includes more than just an interior/exterior evaluation – it includes a community checklist as well. You can grade key community features like: quality of schools, entertainment and parks by checking anything from “excellent” to “poor”: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/118149190199618874/ Zillow.com: This checklist will help you decide what kind of home you want and need for your family. It’s really more of a place to start when you’re getting ready to go on your home search. It will help you create your home requirements and “wish list” – and will serve as a great conversation starter when you have a first meeting with your realtor. Features on this list can be graded by: “Must Have”, “Like to Have” and “Don’t Care”: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/38280665557688028/ Once you download the checklist that is right for you, you’ll feel good knowing you’re considering each home objectively.