Buying Your First Home? The First 3 Steps are Crucial to Your Journey
By Chris Jones
This article first appeared in April issue of Rock Hill Reader: the Magazine
The housing market in Rock Hill and York County is still going strong. A big part of that is due to what young people are doing. Young families are moving out of their starter homes and first time home buyers are moving out of their rentals.
We’ve worked with several first time home buyers over the years and the conversation usually starts the same way: “Chris, I want to buy a home this year. Where do I start?” And my answer is always the same.
1. Decide that now is the time.
Buying a home is a pretty big decision and it’s not something you want to rush into or something you want to take lightly. Where are you in terms of your career? Where are you in terms of your family? What about your finances? What do the next few years look like for you?
I always tell people there’s no problem with renting if you’re still working through things like that. You should know when it’s time to buy a house. It should be an exciting feeling that you have in your gut; something to look forward to and a journey worth going on.
2. Get prequalified with a lender
It doesn’t take long to do and that ten minutes can save you hours, days, even months of heartache and frustration. You need to know where you stand financially before you go out looking at houses, especially if you plan on dragging a Realtor® out there with you.
The best part about getting prequalified is the peace of mind. A lender is able to give you an up-to-date snapshot of your financial situation and give you the figurative green light to go house hunting. A lender can tell you how much house you can get for the payment you want to have.
A lender can also go over different types of loan programs with you. Knowing what kind of loan programs you qualify for will directly impact your purchasing decisions, especially if you can get down payment or closing cost assistance.
Some people are reluctant to get prequalified. But you have to. Even if the lender comes back with an answer you don’t like, it’s important to know. Maybe you need to eliminate some debt. Maybe you need to bring your credit score up. Or maybe you need to save in order to have enough money for a down payment. Whatever it is, at least you know and you can take the appropriate steps that will enable you to buy a house in the future.
3. Find a Real Estate Agent
Once you’ve got a good idea of where you stand financially, you can find an agent to work with and start looking at houses. Get online and do some research. There are several types of agents and brokerages out there. There are local companies, national companies, single agents and large teams.
Ask friends and family members if they know of any Realtors and how their experience was with them. Also, take a few minutes and research what type of representation you want. There are different ways that an agent can represent you including Exclusive Agency, Designated Agency, and Dual Agency. Learn what those mean so you can tell your agent what you’re comfortable with. Once you’ve got a good idea of where you stand financially, you can find an agent to work with and start looking at houses. Get online and do some research. There are several types of agents and brokerages out there. There are local companies, national companies, single agents and large teams.
Have fun and Happy House Hunting!
Chris Jones, one half of the Jones Zone Real Estate Team at Fathom Realty is a real estate advocate & community connector in the Rock Hill area, but his talent reaches throughout York County and Charlotte.