With everything being online these days, it is easy to skip the prep work before you begin your home search. While it is tempting to immediately start looking at homes on Zillow, you're most likely setting yourself up for disappointment. The market is hot and homes are staying on the market 2-3 days - if they even make it to the market before going under contract. This does not allow buyers much time to prepare their offer and no one wants to lose out on the perfect home because they weren't prepared. Here's the things I recommend preparing before you step foot in a listing.
Find a Realtor
This one is pretty obvious coming from a Realtor, but it is so important! You do not want to wait until you've found the perfect home with an offer deadline before researching Realtors. Not only can your real estate agent help you complete the rest of these tasks, but they probably have access to properties that can't be found on Zillow. It is crucial to meet and discuss your needs with your agent before even setting foot on a property. They can help narrow down the thousands of homes out there and make sure each property you spend your Saturdays touring is something that could work for your family.
Have you ever watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress when a bride walks into Kleinfeld's and claims to not have a budget? Without a doubt she will always fall in love with a dress that is out of budget, the tears come out, and the drama begins. Don't be that bride, get preapproved...
Your Realtor can set you up with their favorite lenders to discuss your finances and determine how much home you can afford. This prevents you from looking at homes outside of the budget and avoids the disappointment of falling in love with a house that isn't financially feasible.
Many homeowners and builders will require a preapproval letter prior to stepping into the property or showroom. Not to mention this will need to be submitted with your offer. It is best to have this done before you house hunt so you're ready at any moment to make an offer.
Get your Finances in Order
This one goes hand and hand with the last. Some banks take 2-3 days to move money around and this is longer than hot properties are staying on the market. Should your offer get accepted, your Earnest Money Deposit and Due Diligence Fee is due at the time of acceptance. After your offer gets accepted is not the time to move money around and order checks. Before you make an offer on a home, you need to make sure you are able to provide a personal check, official bank check, or wire (not recommended) these funds the second the offer is accepted. It is best to have this done before you start house hunting in case you find the one with offers due that night at 5PM.
Make a list of Wants and Needs
While no home will check all of the boxes, it is important to evaluate which ones absolutely have to be checked. Keeping an open mind when house hunting is great, but the home you pick should meet your needs. I tell my buyers to make a list of the things they WANT in a house, and the things that they NEED in a house. The rule of thumb is if the home has 80% of the things you are looking for, 10% of things that you don't love but can be changed, and 10% of things you don't love but can live with, the house is a keeper.
Make a list of Deal Breakers
This can help your Realtor filter homes that will never work for your family and save you time and stress. If it is crucial to you to be in the Wake County School district, it won't be an effective for us to look at homes in Franklinton. While some dealbreakers can be changed, like adding a fence, some can't - like school district and location. Putting the pen to paper and addressing these deal breakers allows us to navigate them and find the perfect home that will work for your lifestyle.
Ready to start house hunting or have some questions before you begin? Let's talk!