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Buying a House: First Steps


Deciding to buy a house is a huge and exciting step in life. But once you’ve chosen homeownership, the next steps can be downright confusing. How do you even know where to begin the process?

Making the right first steps in the home-buying process can make a huge difference in how smooth the process goes, so follow this guide and start your journey on the right foot.



What steps can I take to make home-buying a breeze?



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1. Consider Your Budget

It’s no secret - price is the biggest factor that will impact the home you buy.

One of the most important steps when buying a home is determining how much home you can and want to purchase. It might be a good idea to start paying attention to homes for sale in your area even before you begin the process yourself. This can help give you a rough idea of the cost you should expect for similar homes to what you’re looking for. 

By having a realistic budget in mind from the get-go, you'll be able to make the entire home-buying process more efficient and enjoyable. You'll not only be saving your time and energy from viewing homes below your price point, but you'll also be protecting yourself from the disappointment of falling in love with a home you ultimately can't afford to purchase. 

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2. Get Pre-Approved

Once you’re ready to start looking at homes, a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator will be able to evaluate your finances - such as income, debt, and assets - to determine your buying power. This should hopefully align with the budget you already have in mind. Then, they'll provide a “pre-approval". By being pre-approved for a certain amount, you’ll be able to show sellers that you’re serious about purchasing a home and already have a lender that is willing to provide financing. 


You'll need a letter of pre-approval before you can make an offer on a home, and if you're in a competitive market (or up against other potential buyers), the last thing you want is to slow down the process. Some real estate agents may even require pre-approval in order for you to view a house. So save yourself the hassle of having to backtrack, and get a pre-approval right at the beginning of the process. 

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3. Find the Right Real Estate Agent

Having the right people in your corner during this process can make all the difference. The right real estate agent will represent you when purchasing a home and is legally committed to acting in your best interest as their client – you can trust that the right agent will be doing whatever they can to get you into your dream home.


They will also have a wealth of knowledge and experience at their disposal. They'll likely have a solid idea of the market in your area and the price point of similar homes sold in the last year, both of which are crucial to ensure you're getting the most for your money. Another huge plus is their relationships with other real estate agents. Sometimes a selling agent will only allow viewings to another agent - not buyers alone. 


Additionally, both the buying and selling real estate agents are typically paid for by the seller. So as the buyer, the use of a real estate agent is ultimately at no upfront cost to you.



4. Start House Hunting

Now the fun part! Work with your real estate agent to find some homes that interest you. Your agent will likely send you a listing of properties they think might fit the bill. You can also use sites like Zillow or Redfin to explore on your own, then share any potential listings with your real estate agent. They’ll work with the selling agent to set up a showing so you can go see the property in person.


Before viewing a house, try to have a list of wants and needs -- things you're looking for, and things you absolutely can't budge on. It's easy to get excited by the unexpected things a home can offer, and that's okay! But if you absolutely need a yard for your dog, then the bright and shiny new closet system won't make up for living in a 10th-floor condo.


However, it's also important to keep an open mind! There may be an area of town you hadn't considered before or a house that needs a little TLC, but that doesn't mean they can't be the perfect home for you. Try to think about your life in 6 months, a year, 3 years -- can you see yourself happy in this home?



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Conclusion

While the home-buying process can seem quite daunting, it’s also very exciting! In the end, when you find the right home, it will be worth all of the work you put into making your dream of homeownership into a reality. 

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