With springtime approaching, the most common question I get asked is when is the best time to start the home buying search in the spring market. The spring market is when we see the most buyers actively looking at houses as well as the most inventory to select from. The key is to be prepared heading into this period and the following questions and outline will help you in your preparations.
Below are the key questions I ask all renters looking to purchase a home:
- What are your current lease terms that you agreed to?
- When does your lease end?
- Is it beginning of the month or end of the month?
- What is the penalty fee if you break your lease early?
- Are there move out or cleaning fees to include in the move out costs?
Determining the answers to the questions above will help influence your timeline of when to start looking at properties.
Once you are ready to start the home buying process you might be thinking to yourself, where do I begin? How does this all work? Many people start by asking friends and work colleagues for recommendations of real estate agents. You want to meet with a few to see whose style you like best. Ask yourself and the prospective agents the following questions:
- Are they knowledgeable about the area you are interested in buying in?
- How long have they been selling real estate?
- What structure, tools or systems do they have in place to make sure that your needs are going to met?
- Do they have the bandwidth to take you on as a client?
Once you have had the opportunity to meet with potential agents, they should be guiding you to the next step, which is to get pre-approved.
Understand that there is a difference between getting pre-qualified and pre-approved. It is in everyone's best interest for you to get pre-approved. Meet with at least 2-3 lenders who will be able to tell you how much you can afford as well as what you can expect in terms of monthly payments. I recommend meeting with a few to know what types of first time home buyer programs they offer as well as current interest rates. They will look at your W-2s, tax returns, and credit score to answer how much you can afford and what your rate will be. They will provide you with a letter that you will want to share with your real estate agent. Now you are ready to start touring houses with your agent.
The spring market is typically the busiest time of year for home buyers and sellers. With the information above you will be prepared for when it starts!