Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, once the decision is made, you may not know what the next step is or where to begin. Of course, being the biased Realtor that I am, I suggest you start with contacting your real estate professional-(that would be me….hopefully).
The initial process goes like this:
Whenever I meet new clients for the first time, we sit down and talk informally about the home buying process as it’s pertains to the current market. Today more than ever, it’s important to understand pricing trends, recent changes in real estate laws and what to expect during the escrow process. I view my role at this stage as an educator, offering scenarios and options so my clients are able to make informed decisions. That’s the key in the process…it’s your decision, but you must have the information and understanding to feel comfortable with making those decisions.
After that first meeting, the next step is to talk with a Lender to receive your pre-approval. When I first started in this business, buyers were pre-qualified. This is different from a pre-approval. A pre-qualification is based off a conversation and is more along the lines of “based on what you’re telling me, you should be able to qualify for a mortgage for $-x-amount. A pre-approval on the other hand will require you to provide documentation to the Lender (usually tax returns, pay-stubs and bank statements) and agree to a credit check. After receipt, the Lender will say “based on our review, you qualify for a mortgage of $”x” amount.
There are a few reasons the pre-approval process is important. Right now, with things changing in the Lending world daily, it’s important to know what loan program is right for you based on income, downpayment and credit among other things. Another reason is it’s not wise to look at homes without first knowing whether they fit within your allowable/comfortable price range. Trust me, it’s very hard to look at homes in one price range only to find out you have to scale back considerably. This is true no matter what the price range…it’s hard to go backwards.
Some would-be home buyers today are afraid to start the process. Not because of market conditions, but because they have apprehension of the unknown; afraid their credit isn’t good enough or they don’t have enough cash on hand or haven’t been at their jobs long enough. My advice to you is to at least find out. I’ve worked with clients before who have needed 6 months or more to work on raising their credit scores and once done, were able to buy. The not knowing is much harder to deal with than being told “not now”. If it turns out you can’t buy now or the numbers don’t work in a way that’s comfortable for you, you’ll have a game-plan for the future.
And of course after the pre-approval, comes the fun part…home shopping! But that’s another post entirely…more on that later!
When you’re ready to begin searching for your home in Maple Valley, you can begin that search here
UPDATE: Here you go for part 2 on Buying in Maple Valley-Home Shopping!