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Homebuyer Tips Part I: Getting a Great Start

Here’s what all homebuyers should consider before their home search.

Today in part I of a two-part series, I’m discussing what buyers can do to set themselves up for success in our current real estate market. 

1. Know what you’re looking for. What type of home do you seek? A single-family house, condo, or townhome? We also ask homebuyers to think about which rooms or areas in a home matter most to them and their family. Knowing these things in advance will save you tons of time, as it will allow you to narrow your search from the jump. 

Buyers also need to factor in school districts and community amenities. Those are the elements that will require a little more research; you can change a home to suit your tastes, but you can’t change a neighborhood. Commute time is another important consideration. Here in Houston, an hour-long commute is not out of the norm, so keep that in mind. Also, don’t take lightly the varying tax rates among different cities and areas; we can see a swing in tax rates by as much as 1% to 1.5% from one area to the next, and it will have a significant impact on how much extra you’ll pay each month for your mortgage. 

A trusted Realtor will always tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

2. Shop for a loan before you start house hunting. It’s okay to visit a few open houses and do your research in advance—that’s all part of the process. However, when you start working with a Realtor and begin looking at homes in earnest, you must have that pre-approval in place. In the event you find your dream home, you’ll need to have that pre-approval letter if you hope to write a strong offer on it. Without one, the seller may not take you seriously. 

Also, shopping for a loan allows you to confirm your budget. What’s the max you’re willing to go up? What price range would provide you with the most comfortable financial obligation? Meeting with a mortgage professional is also great because it allows you to review your debt-to-income ratio and discover problem areas in your credit that you need to work on so you can get the lowest possible interest rate for your loan. 

Furthermore, you could be surprised by what you qualify for. You may be able to receive down payment assistance, Texas grants, etc. Until you have that conversation with two or even three different mortgage professionals to see what your options are, you’ll never know what’s out there. 

3. Find a Realtor you can trust. A good Realtor is willing to meet with you and your family and go over the entire process in detail. During that initial conversation, we’ll answer all of your questions. There’s no such thing as a bad question; knowledge is power, and we’re happy to fill in the blanks whenever you don’t know something. Our goal is for you to be informed, comfortable, and confident as you move through the process. We’ll also review your needs and wants and internalize them so that we’ll be looking at homes through your eyes. 

Lastly, a trusted Realtor will always tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. We want to give as much upfront information on a property of interest as we can. We’re here to protect your future investment. A Realtor you can trust keeps your best interest top of mind at all times. 

Hopefully Part I of this series provided you with some enlightening information. Stay tuned for Part II coming soon. 

In the meantime, reach out via phone or email with any real estate questions you may have! I look forward to hearing from you.