Even if you are just starting your home search, you probably already know that finding the perfect property is difficult. There are, however, several steps that you can take in order to help ensure a successful outcome.
1) Find the right agent. Just because you have a friend who sells real estate, doesn’t mean that this person is the agent that you need to use to find your home. Interview several. Figure out which one seems to be the best fit for you. Is your agent really listening to you? Are they willing to do whatever it takes to help you find a suitable home AND stay within your budget? Do they take your calls immediately, or return them in a timely manner? The busiest agents may have their names on every sign, and that sort of volume may be what you want. On the other hand, you may want someone with fewer listings, who has more time to dedicate to your purchase.
2) There is no substitute for “boots on the ground,” and they should be YOUR boots. Narrow your search to a couple of areas, and then go spend some time there. Talk to homeowners. Check out the restaurants. See where you feel more comfortable, and then focus on that area. When you find the right neighborhood, you’ll know.
3) Get your ducks in a row. Speak to a local lender, check your credit score, take the steps necessary to improve your chances of qualifying. Find out what your budget is (factor in property taxes, insurance costs, and HOA fees), and stick to your budget. Get a pre-approval letter from your lender, and have your agent submit that with your offer.
4) Be patient, but ready to act quickly. You’re not the only person out there looking for their next home. When your agent calls you with a home to look at, don’t delay. That can be the difference between you calling that house “home,” or someone else moving in.