When it comes to buying real estate, it helps to be prepared. Before beginning the home buying process, arrange these 5 "must have" home buying resources: a bank or mortgage broker, information on your preferred neighborhoods and the type of home you want, a realtor who works for you, an insurance agent, and your own home inspector.
1. Bank or Mortgage Broker
Get your banker on board as your first resource. Get pre-qualified to find out how much you can afford based on your finances and credit history. Then obtain a pre-approved loan, which lines up the money ahead of time. Going through this process eliminates some possible hiccups when it comes time to make an offer and sign the papers.
2. Know Your Neighborhoods and House Needs
Next, collect your second resource - a packet of real estate for sale in your preferred neighborhoods. Spend time looking at real estate fliers and real estate for sale online. The neighborhoods should have your ideal schools, shopping, and churches. Next, break down the neighborhood searches, by locating some homes that fit your most important criteria: size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, attached or detached garage, pool (or not), fencing, a yard, floor plans, recent renovations, or if it is a fixer-upper.
3. Your Own Realtor
Now that you have your financial and your preferred real estate resources in hand, it's time to find a realtor. Check out local realtors online and through real estate publications, then check out their Better Business Bureau rating and their state licensing status. Don't be afraid to interview a few until you find a realtor who will be honest and up front with you.
4. Homeowner's Insurance
Talk to an insurance agent to find the best homeowner's insurance policies for your price range and your preferred neighborhoods. If you already have an agent you trust, great. If not, choose one in the same manner as you chose your real estate agent. Having your insurance agent on board as a resource will also help speed up the sale.
5. Your Own Home Inspector
Finally, your most important resource before closing the deal is a home inspector who works for you and not the seller. The sellers may get an inspection themselves, but as a buyer, you owe it to yourself to have your own inspection done. The inspector should thoroughly examine the roof, air conditioning and heating systems, plumbing, electricity and gas, and the home's structure. Be there during the inspection and ask questions about what the inspector is looking for and any problems that have been spotted. Take this knowledge into negotiations to determine who pays for what fixes, the buyer or the seller.