Our latest adventure started back in January. We are in the process of buying a house! It’s an exciting time but also a bit stressful. The level of adulting required is something I didn’t plan for. We have taken our time to educate ourselves on the process. For me this includes hours on Pinterest looking at “First Time Homebuyer” pins. But I wanted to share some tips we have discovered so far in the process.
1. Pick a realtor you feel comfortable with – Don’t just go for the first person who reaches out to you or the first realtor you meet at an open house. We met with 3 realtors in a weekend before making a decision. You need to pick someone you can reach out to with questions or concerns. They need to be someone knowledgeable. They also need to be someone who gives you a good vibe. You will be working closely with them throughout the process
2. Do the math – Zillow and similar sites will show you “monthly payment estimates” when you look at houses. Don’t assume this is actually what you will pay. There are a lot of factors that will influence your payment: credit score, type of loan, down payment. Play around with these numbers to see what is really feasible.
3. Don’t over do it in the open houses – We went to a good deal of open houses as we started looking. Although it is helpful to get an idea of what you want, over do it and all the details can start to run together. You also want to look at houses that are within your budget, otherwise you could be heading towards disappointment.
4. Stay organized – Keep homebuying details together. When looking at open houses I made a google spreadsheet and shared it with our realtor. As we meet with our realtor or talk with lenders I keep my handy notebook with me so I can have everything together.
5. Shop around for loan rates – We were so excited to get preapproved and it was with a bank I was very familiar with so we didn’t think much of shopping around. We recieved an email saying it’s best to shop around within a two week time frame because it wouldn’t affect our credit score but we disregarded the info. Now we realize what a difference lower rates can make and we are shopping around again, but we are out of the 2 week window so we had to accept the fact that we would have another credit inquiry, lowering our credit score slightly. In our situation we decided it was worth the trade off. But if we could have avoided it that would have been nice.