If you have never gone through the home buying process before, then it can be confusing. This is especially true if you don't have family members or friends who have recently purchased their own home that you can turn to for advice. This article can take their places in this situation and help offer you some guidance and advice for entering the stressful but exciting world of shopping for a single family home.
You need a good real estate agent
Secure yourself a good real estate agent right away. Provide them with a print out of brief information on yourself and everyone in your household, as well as pets you have. The printout should also list the things that you MUST have, the things that anyone in the family would LIKE to have and anything that you definitely WON'T accept in a home.
Remember, when making that "must have" section that the way you write it can hinder you. For example, if you write MUST have 4 bedrooms then the agent will search using 4 bedrooms as a set criteria and that gorgeous, perfect 3-bedroom with an office (that could easily be turned into your household's 4th bedroom) won't come up in the search and you will miss out. Writing it so it reads, 4 bedrooms (open to converting free space into a 4th bedroom) will offer you more options.
Pre-approval is one of the first steps you should follow
Either right before or right after you get a real estate agent, you want to head to the lender's office and get pre-approved. This is where they will run your credit, go over your finances, go over your employment history, review your debt and review other information used to come up with a pre-approval amount you would qualify for. You will receive a pre-approval letter.
This process is extremely important. It lets you and your realtor know the amount you will be able to get approved for and it also shows you are a serious buyer and not just looking around. This helps your realtor get you indoors because they can specify to a seller's agent that they have someone interested in looking at their listing who is already pre-approved for XXX dollar amount. It also lets everyone know that you are in the position of actually making a legitimate offer then and there if you want.
Really look at a house while you are viewing it
When your agent is showing you a home, don't be shy about asking all the questions you have. If there is something wrong, ask if that will be taken care of or be left that way for the buyer to deal with. Also, take as many pictures and even video of the inside and outside so you can review it later if you find yourself going back and forth between two or more places. This can help you remember what you liked and didn't like about each home so you can come to a final conclusion easier.