Start with a pre-qualification and/or pre-approval.
Have a lender pull your credit and make sure you get a copy. If there are issues with your credit this is the time to fix it. Be accurate with your information and provide gross monthly income.
Shop your interest rate and fee structure.
You can have your credit pulled multiple times in a 2-week period and not adversely affect your credit. Your rate and fees will be reflected in your Annual Percentage Rate (APR). This is the “cost” of the loan and is a very important number.
Have your lender show you how they can use a “rebate” for a specific interest rate chosen to pay for your closing costs.
There are thousands of dollars available to you for a slightly higher interest rate. If you start with the lowest interest rate in the market you will have more leverage for this rebate. Oftentimes, you can have all your closing costs taken care of for the same rate banks will charge you.
Shop your homeowner’s insurance.
Now is the time to consolidate what you are covering and make sure you get the best insurance rate for your new home purchase.
Interview multiple real estate agents.
Once you have set the groundwork and have been pre-qualified it is important to interview multiple real estate professionals. Work with a real estate agent you are comfortable with. They are working for you and have access to a plethora of information. Use their experience to help you locate and negotiate the best deal for you.
Be patient and willing to “walk away” if you feel you are paying too much. A bidding war might spur you to overspend, but paying an inflated price can make it tough to resell when prices stabilize or sink.
Buying a home can be a stressful process but it does not have to be. You may not find the “perfect” home but you will find one pretty close to it. Enjoy the process and do not become so attached to a home that you make a bad decision in your offer. Make a list of what you are looking for but do not be rigid about finding them all.
Ask your agent about a good home inspector.
The home inspector is paid by you to give you a good idea of what you are buying. They will diagnose the house and give you a complete report. Remember, the appraiser (different than inspector) is for the lender to verify if the house is not overpriced.
Visit the property at different times during the day.
Swing by in the evening to observe lighting, neighborhood activity and stop by at rush hour to see how traffic affects the property.
Many things can happen during the buying process and many things can “derail” your purchase. Get through any complications with patience and perseverance. More often than not, human emotion will prevent a transaction from closing. If all parties are on the same page and work together the deal will get done.