I’ve Decided to Purchase a Home: What’s the Absolute First Thing I Should Do?

For most people, when they decide it’s time for a new home, the first thing they do is start dreaming of that perfect house. They often turn to online services like Zillow or Trulia to start their home search. Before long they think they’ve found their dream home! They find a realtor, show the realtor some of the great homes they’ve already looked up, and then……find out that the realtor won’t show them any homes without a pre-approval. OK, no problem. They run out to their nearest bank, answer some questions and hand over some documents, only to find out they probably can’t afford what they thought they could. That’s OK though, now they have a max budget in mind! So they take the pre-approval to the realtor and find a home they love. The whole experience has been long yet exciting; until days before closing when suddenly they get a call that the mortgage has been denied. The insurance and taxes were more than expected and the bank hadn’t factored an HOA or CDD into closing costs. Suddenly it’s back to square one.

This doesn’t have to be your experience when buying a home. The single most important first step is to sit down with a local mortgage broker who can meet you for lunch or coffee, listen to your goals and circumstances, and really help you understand what you can afford. They can explain things like the differences in buying a condo vs a home (Florida is the most stringent state in the country when it comes to buying condos). They can get to know your personal roadblocks and help you come up with a game plan for getting past them. Things like past foreclosures, low credit, a recent change in careers, or any of a thousand other things can be overcome with time and a plan. Or perhaps you have great credit and have saved for a down payment. They can help you with choosing the best mortgage and rate for your particular goal. Do you plan on being there for just a few years or being there long term?  How much do you need to put down to avoid mortgage insurance? Are there programs available for first time home buyers? All these questions can greatly shape the mortgage that works best for you.

So there you have it! With just one simple sit down you now have a clear understanding of what you can afford, what your options are, and what you will be up against once you apply for the mortgage. You can THEN start browsing Zillow, looking for a realtor, and shopping with confidence for your dream home. Happy house hunting!