To complete your path to homeownership, there are five steps you must take.

Where does your path to homeownership start? A lot of people get confused as to where you begin the journey that ends with the keys to your new home in hand, so today I’ll provide a step-by-step guide. 

First, get qualified. You have several options to get qualified. You can go to your bank, for example, or you can go online. Another option is asking family and friends for a personal recommendation. The option I recommend is to work with a lender referred to you by your real estate agent. 

In past situations, I’ve noticed that when people work with big banks, they consider you just another file. Some of their loan officers get fed hundreds of leads monthly, so they don’t have a vested interest in doing an exceptional job. They know that more business will be sent their way automatically no matter what. In contrast, the people I recommend know they must do a good job or I will no longer recommend them to the families who trust me to guide them through the home buying process. 

This is very helpful because they can be available on the weekends or after regular business hours. When it’s crunch time and you need to make an offer, little details like this add up to a positive experience. 

Second, create a ‘must-have’ list. A ‘must-have’ list includes things your home must have,  otherwise you won’t buy it. If this list isn’t well-defined, your search will be so broad that you’ll get overwhelmed by the number of available homes.

“Your agent should have an eye on the market and know what’s been happening.” Next, drive around the area and get familiar with it. I’ve found that people tend to ask friends, family, coworkers, etc., about certain areas of a particular town and blindly accept the information they give them. We all have different expectations and perceptions of what something means to us, so the only way to know whether a neighborhood is the right fit is to drive and/or walk around it ourselves. 

Also, do your own research. As you do this, you’ll come across a lot of information that tends to be contradictory. This is where a full-time agent can guide you and make sure you get all the proper information. Again, if you heed the advice of friends or family who aren’t as informed, you’ll make a decision that can prove costly. 

Lastly, pick an agent with whom you’re comfortable. How do you know the difference between a good Realtor and one who may not be up to the task? First, pick one who works full time and isn’t distracted by other commitments that might prevent them from guiding you through the process the right way. A Realtor may claim to be in business for 30 years, but the real number to know is how many families they’ve helped each year. It’s very different working with a Realtor who’s been in the business just five years but has helped 100 families each of those years than working with a Realtor that’s been in the business 30 years but has only helped three people each year. Your agent should have an eye on the market and know what’s been happening. 

Also, ask what kind of continuing education they pursue. Your agent should always be seeking new information to guide you. Finally, find an agent who will negotiate for you. 

I always make time for my clients to meet me in my office; I don’t want to meet in a public place like Starbucks where the content of our conversation can be overheard by others. This is a serious process, and my clients and I need to have each other’s undivided attention so I can answer all of their questions.

If you or anyone you know is planning on buying a home in 2020, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Let’s help you start building equity.