The thought of buying a home has crossed your mind. You aren't looking to spend thousands of dollars tomorrow or even start packing, but you know for a fact that you want to finally have your own place in the next year or so.
That's a huge step in your life that you're probably really excited/a little nervous about.
Fantastic, sooo... now what?
I have gone through this experience myself (along with helping other first time home buyers - it's my job). The advice I have given my friends is the same advice I have taken myself and the same advice I've shared along this blog with you.
These are the first things you should do if you're thinking you want to buy a house. They might seem simple, but doing them in this order will make the whole process about 20x smoother for you.
Talk to a Mortgage Lender
I know, I know. Everyone you talk to says, “you need to talk to a lender” and the thought of calling up a bank and saying “I want to buy a house, what do I do?” makes you sick. You’d rather live in a shed forever than call a business and go through the process. I get it. I felt that way before I knew how things worked.
Each loan has their own criteria requirements - from credit score to debt-to-income ratio, do you know if you meet them? How much should you put down ? (each loan doesn't require the same % of the purchase price and some don't even require a down payment). How much do you want to spend a month? (that'll give you an idea, along with the other factors above, to know your purchase price budget)
All of these questions can be answered with a 10-minute phone call.
Honestly, a fair number of lenders you can call are just going to start putting you through the process without you knowing what’s going on, BUT there is GOOD NEWS. A number of local lenders I recommend would love to just talk to you to see where you’re at right now and advise you on what you need to do to get where you want to be.
This overall can help you decide when would be a good time to start looking.
If you need some suggestions of who to talk to, I got you! (They’re very nice and won’t harass you.)
Figure Out What You Want
This sections is kind of like, the more knowledge the better. It’s basically like sitting down and making a list of all the stuff you want in your house (most people love this step). Try to keep it in your budget though. If your budget is $150k and you want 14 bedrooms……
Figure out where you want to live. You may be thinking, “that’s your job.” Nope. There are a lot of places out there in the world, and we might now agree on the coolest of them. So, I would recommend driving around, going in neighborhoods, mapping out where the best spots to hangout are, schools you want your kids to go to, etc. Might want to stay away from limiting yourself too much though. If you only want one neighborhood and it has 14 houses total in it, there might be some delay in getting you one of those houses. Planning out where you want will help your agent find some houses in those areas.
Figure out what you want. Do you want 2 beds? 3 beds? A porch? Open floor plan? Sometimes you have no clue until you look in some houses and see what you love and what you hate. That's ok! So having as much knowledge as possible about this is key, but you don’t have to know everything right off the bat.
Talk to a Buyer's Agent
You’re probably feeling the same way you did about the lender earlier, and I get it. But, wait! More GOOD NEWS is that the good agents aren’t trying to pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do. They’re just trying to teach you about the process and how things work, because nobody teaches you this stuff in school. If you decide it’s your time to buy a house, great! Let’s get to work getting you in a house. If not, great! We can work together to see what’s the best option for you. Maybe you just need help making a plan for when you want to buy in the future, and that's awesome! Let's do it together.
I’ve written a whole other blog on what a Buyer's Agent is and the advantages, so if you’re totally lost right now, go here.
(If you need some suggestions of agents to talk to, I got you. Spoiler: if it’s in Greenville, the first one is going to be me.)