As another bustling summer season nears its end, life goes on in the Lakes Region. Many visiting second-home owners plan to return to their primary residences, and many local, year-round residents are making plans to purchase their first and only homes.
What should a new homebuyer do first?
Smart buyers prioritize getting pre-approved for financing before taking any other steps.
Granted, completing mortgage paperwork is not as fun and gratifying as searching for homes online, touring properties and attending open houses. But your new home should be your refuge from the stresses of life, not the source of your stress. Pre-approval will help you establish a realistic buying budget that considers all of your housing expenses including taxes and, if applicable, association fees. Being budget wise will help you shop smart and minimize financial stress in the long run by keeping your monthly housing expenses within reach.
Pre-approval can also accelerate and focus your house hunting, and minimize the stress of the search. For example, searching after—rather than before—pre-approval will help you avoid the discouragement of falling in love with a home that later turns out to be above what you can be approved for.
Pre-approval is also important because attractive homes and good values can sell very quickly here in the Lakes Region, and it can be absolutely heartbreaking to miss out on a home that you really want, simply because another buyer is pre-approved and you’re not. Sellers take pre-approved buyers more seriously and other offers can be rapidly submitted and accepted while unprepared buyers await financing approval.
Finally, the pre-approval process will also help you determine four very important things: what type of financing is available to you, how much interest it will cost, how much money you’ll have to put down, and how long it will take to “close” (legally transfer property ownership from seller to buyer) once the seller accepts your offer.
For example, FHA loans, which are mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, offer competitive interest rates and more flexible qualification requirements to homebuyers, but they may require a higher down payment and can add days to your closing schedule.
Once you’re pre-approved, shop smarter, not harder.
Once you’ve your housing budget is determined and is financing pre-approved it’s important to shop effectively because attractive properties can go off the market before you’ve even seen them!
Leverage technology to make your search more quick and effective. Start by viewing MLS listings and saving searches on a quality real estate website. Focus your search on properties that have the features you need and that are within your pre-approved price range. A good site will allow you to target your search to specific areas—like streets or certain communities. It will accurately list only currently-available properties, and will offer you the option of automated email updates when properties that match your saved search criteria come on the market.
For example, www.rocherealty.com offers enhanced, map-based property search capability, as well as extensive information on New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. Site visitors can look up individual towns and learn about their schools, businesses, home values and market trends, so they can make informed decisions about where they choose to purchase their first home.
Next, meet in person with licensed real estate professionals and establish “buyer representation” with one with whom you are comfortable. This will commit the REALTOR® to the fiduciary responsibilities of confidentiality, loyalty, full disclosure of any knowledge that might benefit you, lawful obedience, and protecting and promoting your interests as a buyer, first and foremost.
Your real estate professional will bring professional power to the search and help you find homes you may not have been able to find on your own. Sometimes they know of properties before they’re even listed!
Further, they can help you obtain valuable information on the home’s location and site, provide advice on market conditions, current prices and issues that may impact later resale values, and they can help you negotiate the best price when you do place an offer.
And it shouldn’t cost you anything to avail yourself of their services as a buyer—a real estate agent’s commission is usually paid by the seller.
Becoming a first time home owner will change your life as dramatically as the change from Summer to Fall in New Hampshire.
You can navigate that change successfully by prioritizing pre-approval for financing before taking any other steps, leveraging the best technology for your search, and establishing quality professional relationships that will help you shop smarter, not harder.
Brent Metzger is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith, NH and can be reached at (603) 229-8322 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market.