If you’ve been thinking about buying a home but aren’t ready to commit just yet, the best time to prepare is now. Whether you’ve been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic or you’re just waiting for some specific stars to align, there are many reasons why you may be waiting to make your move. The good news is that there are several things you can do now to prepare, and doing so may help you eliminate hassles, make smarter decisions and even save money later. Here are four ways you can get started.
1. Create your wish list
You may already have your dream home in mind, but aligning that dream with your budget and the homes on the market isn’t always so simple. To prepare for that task, start by making a list of your “wants” and “must-haves” for your new home in order of priority. Once you do start looking at places, this list will help you organize and rank your options, avoid impulse decisions and ultimately choose the home that’s the best fit for you.
2. Find a real estate agent
Buying a home is a big investment, and it can be a complicated and sometimes stressful process. That’s why finding and partnering with a quality real estate agent early on is highly recommended. Your agent will be your advisor and advocate through every step of the process, starting with helping you prepare for your home search and purchase. Best of all, homebuyer agents are paid by home sellers, so you don’t even have to open your checkbook to enlist the services of a great agent.
3. Talk with a lender
How much home can you afford? Does your credit need improvement? How much cash will you need for your purchase? These questions and others are why you should talk with a lender well before you start your home search. A mortgage loan officer can help you review your credit, evaluate your mortgage options and get your preapproved for a loan – all at no cost. This will help you set your homebuying budget, show sellers that you’re a serious buyer and minimize any surprises later on.
4. Save up for closing costs
Many people are pleasantly surprised by just how little cash they need to buy a home. That said, you definitely don’t want to come up short when you get to the closing table for your home purchase. Your lender and agent can help you estimate just how much cash you’ll need based on your homebuying budget and the other factors involved in your purchase. You may even qualify for down payment and closing cost assistance, and you may be able to use gift funds from a family member or other benefactor.
As the saying goes, you can never be too prepared. Even if you don’t know which way your homebuying plans will go in the weeks or months ahead, starting your preparations shouldn’t cost you anything but some time. That small investment now may pay off in a big way once you’re ready to buy when the time is just right.