1. TALK WITH A LOAN OFFICER
First things first, meet with a lender to pre-qualify for a mortgage. The more documentation you can bring to this meeting the less they will have to hassle you down the road for it. Learn what documents to bring. If you do not qualify for a home loan quite yet, do not be discouraged! Put the shopping on hold temporarily to work on fixing your credit and/or adding to your down payment amount. There will be plenty of houses available after you’ve got your budget on lock down.
2. WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU WANT
It’s easy to get swept away by snazzy curb appeal, bright lights, and big yards. Make sure the house you choose is truly what you are looking for. Write down a list of Absolute Musts, Desires, & Deal Breakers. Revisiting this list often will help you remain true to what you want in your next home. This list is also helpful for making sure your real estate agent is on the same wavelength as you.
3. FIND YOUR REALTOR
There are thousands of licensed real estate agents in Minnesota. You want one that will earn your business and work to win you the best deal at the closing table. Someone that will call you back same-day and can get you in to view houses as soon as possible. You also want someone knowledgeable in the area you’re looking to buy in. Realtors work off of referrals so ask your friends and family who they have worked with or know of in the business. You can take your time interviewing agents before choosing to be their client, so do your research and trust your instincts.
4. PLAN FOR UNPLANNED EXPENSES
A savings isn’t a savings if you dip into it for non-emergencies. Create a savings (and I don’t mean the backup credit card) specific for purchasing your new house. So when your inspector misses something or the old furnace you were betting on breaks down a week after the closing, you will be ready.
5. HAVE FUN!
Searching for the perfect house often requires time away from work or family activities, compromising with your spouse, and sacrificing to maintain your budget. Accept these things and move on (pun intended). You are not going to be buying a house very often and it truly can be a fun experience. So enjoy taking a long lunch away from the office and dream of your future in each new property you view. Your life will return to normal soon enough.