The home buying process can be a daunting task if you’ve never done it before — and sometimes even if you have! A common concern that we hear from first-timers is whether or not they are ready to buy, and how they know when to start looking once they are ready to take that next step.
The first thing to do is to get your finances in order. Having a down payment — whether it is substantial or not — is a great asset. Even a small chunk of change, like a couple thousand dollars, will help you when you first meet with a lender.
It is good to get a general idea of what your real estate market is like, too. Take a quick look at some sites like Realtor.com and Trulia.com to see what’s out there in your area. Currently, it is a buyer’s market, so there are a lot of houses out there for buyers to choose from, and buyers can be picky because the market is moving relatively slow. However, the Harrisonburg area seems to be slowly making a shift and in some cases, buyers have to move quickly to get the house they want, especially in the lower price ranges.
Once you’ve taken a look at your finances and your local market, we suggest meeting with a mortgage broker. They can sort through the more specific financial aspects of buying a home with you, and can lock in an interest rate. They’ll also be able to give you an idea of what you can afford. If you simply can’t afford to buy a home right now, the mortgage broker will let you know that, too. Meeting with a mortgage broker doesn’t cost you anything but a little bit of time. So if you are wondering if you can afford to buy a home, it would be wise to at least meet with a mortgage broker and figure that out together. (If you’d like some suggestions of mortgage brokers in the Harrisonburg area, we’ll be glad to give you some names.)
Now you’ve met with a lender and you know about what you can afford. Find a trustworthy Realtor®! We, The Harrisonburg Homes Team, has a proven track record of success in working with home buyers. We work for one of the top brokerages in the Shenandoah Valley, Kline May Realty, and we work hard to provide all of our clients with extraordinary customer service. We handle everything for you, from the time you sign a contract to closing, and beyond.
Start the search! How many bedrooms do you want? How many bathrooms? Do you have a specific type of house you are looking for — ranch, split level, contemporary, log home, townhome? How much land do you prefer? What area of the city/county would like to live in? Share all of this information with your Realtor® so they can provide you with the best service possible and find you that dream home sooner rather than later. Realtors® know the current market better than anyone, so if your criteria are a little “out of whack” they’ll be able to share that with you and can tweak your search a bit.
A general rule of thumb for a timeframe in your home search is to allow for a few months of searching and a couple of months between writing a contract and your closing date. However, each individual situation is different, so you could end up searching for a long time, or just a week! And you could be able to write a contract one day and close on it within a month. It all depends on the needs of that particular buyer and that particular seller.
Realtor.com also provides a cool Buyer’s Guide online. Click here to check it out.
If you are still unsure as to whether or not you are ready to buy a home, or if you have questions about the home buying process, please let us know! We’re happy to help.