Sheryl Simon's Blog
Let's face it – there is no shortage of buyers competing for the top residences. However, there are many things you can do to rise above the homebuying competition, and these include:
1. Review the Local Housing Market
The housing market fluctuates. In some instances, the housing market may favor buyers. Or, in other cases, it may favor sellers.
If you analyze the local housing market closely, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market. You then can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.
To distinguish a buyer's market from a seller's market, you may want to look at available houses in your city or town. If homes are selling just days after they become available, a seller's market may be in place. Comparatively, if houses linger on the real estate market for an extended period of time, the real estate sector likely favors buyers.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
With pre-approval for a mortgage, you will know how much you can spend on a house. Then, you can narrow your house search to residences that fall within your price range.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of lenders. These financial institutions can teach you about many mortgage options and help you choose home financing that suits you perfectly.
Of course, selecting a mortgage can be difficult, regardless of whether you are a first-time or experienced homebuyer. But if you ask mortgage questions and perform a comprehensive home financing analysis, you can choose the right mortgage without delay.
3. Establish Homebuying Criteria
Homebuying criteria is a must, particularly for those who want to seamlessly navigate the property buying journey. Because if you enter the real estate market with homebuying criteria in hand, you can speed up the process of finding your dream residence.
As you craft homebuying criteria, you should try to define your dream house. Think about the features you want to find in a home. You next can include these features as "must-haves" on your list of homebuying criteria.
In addition, consider where you want to reside. If you hone your house search to residences in a select group of cities and towns, you may be able to quickly discover a great home that you can enjoy for years to come.
For those who require extra help during the homebuying journey, you may want to hire a real estate agent, too. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you can receive in-depth assistance as you pursue your ideal house.
A real estate agent understands what it takes to navigate any housing market, at any time. He or she will help you search for residences that match your expectations. Plus, if you have any homebuying concerns, a real estate agent will address them right away.
Gain a competitive advantage over rival homebuyers – use the aforementioned tips, and you accelerate the process of finding and purchasing your dream residence.
Do you ever wish that they taught a class in high school called, “Things You’ll Actually Need to Know In Life?” You’d learn how to prepare your taxes, what investing is, and how to buy a home.
Unfortunately, all of these important life lessons tend to be self-taught; you pick them up along the way and learn from your mistakes.
However, it needn’t be that way. Our goal today is to give you an accurate idea of what to expect when you’re buying your first home. We’ll go over a typically home buying timeline and discuss how long each step can take. This will give you a better idea of how long it will take to close on your first home.
Step 1: Build credit and save for a down payment
Estimated time: 2+ years
The first step of buying a home is to make sure you’re financially secure enough to do so. While there are ways to purchase a home with low or no down payments (See FHA, USDA, and VA loans), generally it’s wiser to wait until you have a sizable down payment saved. This will save you money in interest and mortgage insurance in the long run.
Next, you’ll need to start working on your credit. If your credit score took some hits due to late payments when you were younger, now is the time to start fixing those mistakes by making on-time payments and paying off outstanding balances.
Step 2: Have a plan for the next phase of your life
Estimated time 6+ months
One of the most important, and least talked about, parts of buying a home is understanding what it means to own a home. If you have a spouse, partner, or family, you’ll need to be in agreement that you’re prepared to stay in one place for the next 5 or more years.
Buying a home is expensive and you won’t want to go through the process of closing on a home if you aren’t sure you’ll stay. This means making sure your career won’t bring you elsewhere in the near future.
Step 3: Get prequalified and preapproved
Estimated time 1-3 days (depending on how much initiative you take)
Getting prequalified for a mortgage takes minutes. You simply fill out an online form and the lender will give you an idea of the type and size loan you could qualify for. Be forewarned: they’ll also use this information to call and bother you about getting a mortgage from them.
Once you’re prequalified, it’s just a matter of working with the lender to provide the correct documentation for pre-approval.
Getting preapproved takes a bit longer (1-3 days), since it requires a credit check and some work on your part--namely, gathering and sending income verification.
Once you’re preapproved, you can safely start shopping for homes without worrying that you’re wasting time looking at homes that are overbudget.
Step 4: House Hunting
Estimated time: 30+ days
It’s a seller’s market. So, if you’re buying a home right now there is competition out there. You’ll need to dedicate a substantial amount of time to researching homes online, contacting sellers’ agents, and following up on calls. Like before, the amount of effort you put into this process determines how quickly and smoothly you’ll get through it.
Step 5: Making an offer and closing
Estimated time: ~50 days
Average closing times for buying a home has grown to 50 days according to a recent study. However, by securing financing ahead of time and acting quickly, you can drastically cut down the time of these process to as little as two weeks.
Thinking of buying a home in the near future? You're going to need a preapproval. This tells real estate agents that you're serious about the home-buying process, and it alerts sellers that you're a solid, low-risk candidate. Preapprovals aren't always easy to score, however. And if you're someone who's had a few credit issues in the past, you may need to improve your credit score before your dream of home-ownership becomes reality.
Here's a checklist of best practices for prepping your credit to gain a preapproval:
Check Your Credit Reports
Before you ever approach a lender for a home loan preapproval, make sure you know what's on your credit reports. You're entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three different reporting agencies:
Order credit reports for yourself and for anyone who will be a co-applicant on your home loan, and then scour your reports for inaccuracies.
File Immediate Disputes Over Inaccuracies
Any discrepancies you find should be reported immediately. It's an easy process of reporting the issue to the credit bureau and waiting while they go back to the creditor to verify what you've claimed. In most instances, the inaccuracy will be removed within a week or two, though you may have to produce receipts as proof of payment.
Contact Creditors to Offer Settlements
Make a list of old, unpaid debts that are valid and set aside the funds to pay them off, one by one. If you have cash-in-hand, call creditors and ask them to settle for a portion of the balance in cash. Some may be willing to work with you, others may not. But it never hurts to ask.
Pay Current Bills On Time
Stay current on existing accounts. Make sure everything is paid on time, from credit cards to car payments, to ensure you don't lose points on your overall score while you're working toward credit restoration.
Pay Down Your Debt-to-Income Ratio
Your debt-to-income ratio is an indicator of how responsibly you use your credit. The lower your ratio, the easier it will be to obtain a preapproval. Pay down big balances. The more credit you're able to free up, the more attractive you'll look to potential lenders. Prepping your credit to gain a preapproval is surprisingly easy, but it requires the funds necessary to pay off outstanding debts and to pay down current balances.
Start early if you suspect there are items on your credit report that require fixing, and be patient as things circle back around. Credit repair is not an overnight fix, but with steady progress, it won't be long until you have a preapproval for your new dream home.
Ready to sell a house for the first time? Ultimately, selling a house can be challenging, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with the real estate sector. But with the right home selling guidance, you should have no trouble getting the best price for your house, regardless of your property selling experience.
Now, let's take a look at three vital tips for first-time home sellers.
1. Consider Your Home in Relation to the Housing Market
Although you've likely enjoyed your residence for an extended period of time, you might have no idea how your house compares to similar homes in your area. Fortunately, a first-time home seller who assesses the real estate sector closely can find out how his or her residence stacks up against the competition and plan accordingly.
Check out the prices of available houses in your city or town. By doing so, you may be able to define a "competitive" price for your home based on the present housing market's conditions.
Also, don't forget to analyze the prices of recently sold homes in your area. This housing market data can help you determine whether you're about to enter a buyer's market or a seller's market.
2. Conduct a Home Appraisal
A home appraisal gives you the opportunity to gain expert insights into the current condition of your house. After the home appraisal is finished, you can decide if property repairs are necessary to upgrade your residence before you add it to the real estate market.
Hire an experienced home appraiser to complete your property appraisal – you'll be glad you did. This home appraiser likely understands the ins and outs of examining a house's interior and exterior. As such, he or she will go above and beyond the call of duty to provide you with comprehensive insights that may help you find ways to differentiate your house in a competitive housing market.
In addition, evaluate the results of a home appraisal closely. These results may prove to be essential, as they can empower you with the insights you need to enhance your residence both inside and out and boost your chances of optimizing the value of your house.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is happy to work with a first-time home seller and help this individual achieve his or her property selling goals.
Usually, a real estate agent will help a first-time home seller establish realistic property selling expectations. He or she will provide honest, unbiased home selling recommendations to help a first-time seller minimize stress throughout the property selling journey as well.
With support from a real estate agent, a first-time home seller may be able to accelerate the property selling cycle too. A real estate agent will even respond to a home seller's concerns and questions time and time again.
When it comes to selling a house for a first time, there is no need to worry. Take advantage of the aforementioned tips for first-time home sellers, and you can seamlessly navigate the property selling cycle.
Selling a home takes patience. Especially when you’re balancing your time between settling into your new home, and keeping up with your work and family life. So, when you’ve finally gotten to the point of accepting an offer on your home, you’ll probably breathe a sigh of relief--and you should! However, there are still a few more things that will need to happen and a couple of things to consider before closing the deal on your home sale.
Contingencies on the purchase contract
A purchase contract typically includes contingency clauses that are designed to protect the interests of both the buyer and the seller. These clauses mean that the contract is contingent upon the actions being completed before it can be legally valid.
There are three main contingencies that will likely be included in the purchase contract before closing--inspection, financing, and appraisal.
The inspection contingency allows the buyer to have the home inspected by a professional before closing (the time should be specified within the contract, but the inspection should usually occur no more than two weeks after you accept the offer). A home inspection lets the buyer know what to expect in terms of repairs that the home needs now or will need in the near future.
Since the vast majority of buyers will be purchasing their home through a loan, a financing contingency is included to allow the buyer time to secure their mortgage. Getting pre-qualified and pre-approved makes this process easier, but the buyer will still have to finalize and close on their mortgage before their financing is official.
This clause exists to protect the buyer in the event that their mortgage application is denied, ensuring that they aren’t penalized.
The third contingency most often found in purchase contracts is a home appraisal. The buyer will order an appraisal and then the appraiser will reach out to you to find a day to come and value your home.
If the home is then appraised at the amount agreed upon in your contract, this contingency is met. However, if the appraisal comes up lower than the purchase amount, the buyer can renegotiate the price.
Walkthrough and closing
Once the appraisal and inspection have been met and financing secured, the buyer will have a chance to do a final walkthrough of your home. The walkthrough usually occurs no more than two days prior to closing on the sale. A walkthrough allows the buyer view the home one last time to ensure that the condition of the home hasn’t drastically changed since the home was inspected or appraised. So, make sure the buyer is aware of any changes you planned to make to the home before closing.
Now you’re ready to close on your home sale. You’ll receive a disclosure form to review (read it carefully!) and sign. Once closing is complete, ownership of the home is officially transferred to the buyer.
While the closing process does include several steps, it’s important to be available and cooperative along the way to ensure a smooth sale and transition into your new home.