Buying a home

Buying a home, especially for first-timers, can seem bewildering.  Many people don’t know where to even start.  One of the most rewarding parts of my job as a Realtor is helping people understand the intricacies of becoming a homeowner and taking a lot of the burden off their shoulders.  Here’s some information I like to share with anyone considering a home purchase.

  • Talk to a lender. Before you even look for a new home you must know how much you will be able to afford. The mortgage officer at your bank, credit union, or finance company will tell you what your credit score allows you to borrow. They can also help you see what kind of monthly payment will work with your budget. Your lender will be able to provide you with a pre-approval letter when it come time to make an offer.  This letter is essential to securing a contract on a home. Where you currently do your banking may be a great place to start. I am also glad to provide referrals to lenders with whom I have worked.

  • Make a list. Consider what is important for your new home. How many bedrooms does your family need today? How many will you need in five years? Do you prefer a one-level home for aging family members? How big does your yard need to be? Do you want a garage, a pool, brick construction? Want a fixer-upper or move-in ready? Prioritize your list so it is clear what is REQUIRED and what is DESIRED. We can discuss some of the features that I can look for as we begin your home search.

  • Look at the map. There are many great communities and neighborhoods in middle Tennessee and south central Kentucky. Think about what will be most suited to your lifestyle.  Some of my clients need quick access to an interstate for their commute. Some want to be close to a hospital or the airport.  Perhaps shopping or entertainment options are important to your family. Young families often are interested in schools and recreation. Mature buyers often seek the peace and quiet of rural life. Having shown homes across middle Tennessee and south central Kentucky, I can provide first-hand information on many areas. For other communities, I have colleagues we can consult for their insight.

  • Start looking online. When I bought my first home only real estate agents had access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data so every search started at the agent’s office. Now all MLS listings are online.  My search options give you the ability to search among all homes currently offered by agents in middle Tennessee and south central Kentucky. The challenging aspect of this is the sheer number of homes that a simple search will generate. By using advanced search tools I can help narrow down your options and help you spot features that you wish to avoid.

  • Go for a drive. Buyers often can simply drive by a house and see whether it might be right for them. Perhaps a busy street is not right for your young children. Maybe the fast-food restaurant at the end of the block doesn’t fit into your dreams. If time permits, I encourage buyers to do some “drive-bys”.  Ruling out homes this way means more time for me to take you for complete tours of the serious contenders.

  • Open some doors. As we narrow down your list of prospects I will schedule tours. It works best to visit several homes in a row but you don’t want to overdo it. Once you have seen 5 or 6 homes they start to run together. Taking notes and even cell phone pictures can help you remember which homes impressed you most.

These steps are only the beginning of the road to home ownership. However, some focus on the early steps of the process will pay off when it comes time for offers, home inspections, and closing.