Using a Realtor
Yes, it may seem more than a little self-serving to start out this blog with that line, but consider this; both Time and Forbes recently posted articles explaining why you absolutely need a realtor in today’s market. While entire articles can and have been written on why you should use a realtor when selling your home, know that when you buy a home; you pay your realtor nothing! Your realtor representing you should be taking care of all of the heavy lifting, sending you the latest homes on and off the market as fast as they can find them! The expertise that a good realtor brings should put you at ease when it comes time for negotiations and inspections. Bottom line; if you don’t think your realtor is the right one to represent you, then you need to find a new one ASAP!
It just makes sense that when you are making such a large purchase that you put things in writing, not to mention it's actually the law! Legally, such a purchase needs to be in writing to be enforced and this includes everything else along with it. Terms such as included appliances, time to close escrow, inspections, and disclosures are just some of the items that need to be in a contract and are often negotiable by your realtor. When you are making an offer on your home, don't let the boiler-plate nature of these contracts lead you to believe that you cannot ask for certain things; make your wishes known, and make sure you know that every time you electronically sign a form; you are bound to its terms!
Mortgages and Pre-Approval
I know, this seems silly to even mention since only about 20% of homes in the US are owned outright, most of us need a mortgage to buy a home! However, 2 things that you may not realize is that a) not all mortgages (or lenders) are created equal, and b) you definitely want to get pre-approved before you start looking. While mortgages tend to follow the same interest rates and lending capability, (credit scores, income needed, etc) fees, levels of customer service and types of loans available all vary by which company you choose. Make sure you understand what every fee is, and compare these to other lenders you speak with. Generally, you can have your credit checked for the same type of inquiry inside of a 45 day span with all of them being counted as 1 inquiry, but that span can be as short as 14 days, so you need to ask your lender how they are calculating your information from MyFICO.
Getting pre-approved for a loan is definitely not something to do later… do it now! Pre-approvals are typically good for up to 90 days and having that letter “in-hand” comes with many benefits! When you find that perfect home that you love, the sting is all the greater when someone else beats you to it! When you are pre-approved for a loan it allows your agent to submit that offer right away as most sellers want to see that you can afford the home before they accept the offer. Getting pre-approved also allows your lender to get to work on the underwriting, potentially speeding up the closing time of your new purchase. Make sure when shopping for the right lender that your lender is really evaluating all of your financials; nothing is worse than being told right before closing that you can’t actually get the loan for the home!