1. Talk to a Realtor
I know, you may be 3 years away from buying a house & you think it's way too early. It's not. A great Realtor will understand that you are months or years away from buying and they will still give you a few minutes of their time to provide advice.
A Realtor's job is not only to help you find a house. They also handle the paperwork, work through repair requests, guide you to lenders & down payment programs, negotiate for you, and provide expectations about what you can get for your money. Speaking with them for ten minutes can give you a better idea of the buying process and how you can get started.
When you call a Realtor ask about:
- Which banks they recommend talking to
- How the market is for buyers
- If they will set you up on a Realtor MLS search for leisurely searching (the website that Zillow tries to pull information from!)
2. Talk to a Lender
Unless you are paying cash for the home, you will need to speak with a bank about getting a loan. The good news here is that you don't need to have your own connections to lenders. Your Realtor can provide you with several banks you can speak to. It's a free & quick ten minute conversation over the phone.
They can also give you several ideas for how you can improve your buying power over the next few months and years. Some of those ideas may be increasing credit score, saving for the down payment, and qualifying for certain down payment programs.
When you call a lender ask about:
- down payment programs
- current interest rates
- the best type of loan for you
- what you can be working on to improve your buying power
3. Internet search
You can be several years away from buying a home and still leisurely look for homes online. Just make sure you are using a reliable source (see point number 1)! This period of time can be very helpful because you will quickly learn what areas of town you prefer, if you want a new home or an older one with character, and what kind of home you can get for your money.
Drive by the homes you see online and make mental notes about what you hope to find in your purchase. You'll be surprised at how quickly you can narrow down your search to just a few neighborhoods.
By doing these three things today, you will be much better prepared to begin your actual house hunt with your Realtor when the day comes!
Schedule your ten minute conversation with a local Realtor today!