How to Prepare to Buy A Home
And just like that, the holiday season has come and gone. I hope you have had a lovely end of the year filled with joy and restoration. Maybe you’ve conjured up some New Year resolutions or goals for 2023. If one of those things on your is to buy a new home, there’s no better time than now to utilize that new year momentum and get the ball rolling in the right direction. You might be thinking that there's not a lot of inventory to shop through just yet - and if you’re in Marin county - you’re not wron! But there are plenty of other steps that can be taken in the meantime so when the buyer competition picks up in spring (as it always does) and homes start hitting the market that interest you, you are ahead of the curve and don’t need to stress out about missing an opportunity to buy.
While there are several additional tasks I could recommend to help strategize your home search, here are five simple (and crucially important) things I recommend doing now to set yourself up for a successful home purchase this year:
- Find A Real Estate Agent
I have a friend who says working with a Realtor involves a little “dating”. You might have to go on a few first dates before you find someone you’d like a second date with. While I'd like to think that I can get along great with anyone, I know there is truth to her statement. Buying a home is a significant purchase, and the relationship with your agent is an important part of the process. Working with an agent you not only trust but enjoy working with can significantly impact your experience. Every person has different preferences when it comes to personality, priorities, communication style - and not every agent will be the right match for you. Use your time now to not only research agents in your area but meet with them to find someone who will be a great fit for your needs.
- Get Financial Clarity
Whether you are paying with cash or securing a loan, it’s important to have absolute clarity on your budget before you even start shopping. You will want to know not only your overall budget (which will impact what neighborhoods you are shopping and at what price range) but also what you can afford for a down payment (which will be necessary to know before you make an offer), and total monthly payments (if you are getting a loan). Not understanding your budget thoroughly can waste valuable time and may negatively impact your home buying experience.
- Shop for a lender
Did you know that there are several different options when it comes to home loans? When looking for a lender, it should not be a “one and done” approach. I always recommend my clients meet with at least 2 different lenders to make sure they are finding the best possible loan for their specific needs. Especially if this is your first time securing a home loan, I highly recommend speaking with your agent to learn more and ensure you are on the right path, early in the process.
- Create A Search Strategy
That’s right...you don’t just need to stalk real estate websites every hour of every day. A good agent should work with you to create an actual strategy that will streamline the process so you are not wasting time looking through listings that don’t match your needs, AND also take some (if not all) of the load of watching the market OFF of your plate. When I work with buyers, I use several different markers such a budget, timeline, location and preferred style to create a zoned approach to where we will find the best options for their search. I create email alerts that deliver the most appropriate options right to their inbox and reach out directly within 24 hours of the most optimal options hitting the market. If you don’t have an organized approach with your agent…it might be time to start speaking with more strategic buyer agents!
- Understand offer process
Once you find a home you love, the next steps of the buying process are somewhat complex and may move quickly depending on how fast you need to make an offer to secure the home. Take the time know to fully understand what goes into writing a competitive offer, the offer process itself, what details are needed from your end on the purchase agreement, and what happens once an offer is accepted. The more you know now, the smoother things will feel for you when it’s happening in real time.
If you are prepared and have a strong strategy in place with your Realtor, there is no reason why you won’t find a great home to buy this year! If you would like to start woking on a personalized strategy and prepare for your home purchase this year, please reach out to me directly! I’d love to help.