homer-simpsonMade the decision to go find yourself another home, did ya? Wow. Now THAT’S exciting! Congratulations!

As we all know by now, buying a home is a pretty emotional experience. You’re excited, you’re amped up, you’re viewing listing photos via online sites several times a day, and you’re rarin’ to get out there and find the one that’s just perfect for you. Yep – that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Knowing what to do when you start home-shopping is important . . . in fact, it’s almost as important as knowing what NOT to do. The job of an experienced REALTOR® is to guide you down the right path for both of those fronts. But we figured it wouldn’t hurt to give you a little ‘heads-up’ about some of the larger pitfalls you’ll really want to avoid in the process. So read on, dear house hunter!

Not Letting Your REALTOR® Do Their Job

Funny thing – sometimes people complain about having to pay a REALTOR® at all – and then they fail to actually let them do the job they were hired for. We know part of that is the excitement and enthusiasm that comes with searching for a home, but it’s easy for buyers to jump the gun about certain things – which might ultimately end up costing them money, or even to have regrets about “the one that got away.” So – let your REALTOR® do their job. If you drive by an interesting property they haven’t mentioned to you, call them with the property address and phone number from the sign, and let them research the asking price and property details. (You’ll probably discover that 9 times out of 10, they didn’t mention it because it doesn’t meet your search criteria.)

Decide What You’re Looking For In Your New Home

This actually covers a range of topics, and it will be wildly different for every family. Do you have kids? Then the schools will be an important issue. How many bedrooms and bathrooms; what square footage; 3-car garage; a big back yard to play in, or a low-maintenance patio home; one- or two-stories; a specific neighborhood; close to your work; a multi-generational suite; a gourmet kitchen; new; used . . . as you can see, the list can go on and on. Your REALTOR® will help you nail down the specifics based on your needs and your budget. And then they’ll get to work on your behalf.

Stay In Your Budget

As critical as knowing what you’re looking for in a home (or perhaps even more critical) – is determining what your budget is. It’s not simply a matter of “How much of a mortgage loan can I get?” – because often, people will be able to qualify for a larger loan than they may truly be comfortable with. That’s not to say the lender is over-selling you – what it means is that you may have the income, but want to apply it to other priorities – and perhaps not all of it to your home mortgage payment. If you’re planning to start a business, have more children, saving for college tuition – these are all reasons (and many more) to take into consideration when deciding how much of a loan to get. And that – combined with your down payment needs – will help you determine the price range of the home you should be searching for. Few things are worse than shopping outside that range, falling madly in love with a home, and making the (incredibly long-term) decision to overextend yourself, or have to give up on your future plans because of an impulsive past decision. Just avoid that problem entirely – and stick with your planned budget.

Get Pre-Approved For Your Mortgage Loan

The old-school mindset used to be: Shop for home, Find home, Make offer, Get mortgage loan. Yeah – not so much anymore. There’s a new first step that any reputable REALTOR® is going to strongly recommend – or in fact, may even require before they’ll begin working with you: Getting pre-approval for a mortgage loan. And there’s a very good reason for that – in fact, more than one.

First, you don’t want to be wasting your time, going out and looking at homes that you can’t buy. It’s frustrating (and potentially heartbreaking) for you, and trust us – your REALTOR® certainly doesn’t have extra time lying around to waste, either. Getting a pre-approval for your loan removes the “wish” factor and gives you more confidence to shop wisely for the home of your dreams.

Second, while the market is always changing – it’s not all that uncommon any more for a seller to get multiple offers to buy their home. So put yourself in their shoes: You’re the seller, and you’re looking at offers from three different buyers. All things being equal (assuming they all offered the same price and the same general terms) – you’re going to be far more interested in choosing the buyers who have their loan pre-approval letter in hand, which proves they have the financial wherewithal to actually close escrow successfully. And since you were smart enough to get that pre-approval – you’ve got a good chance of beating those other two buyers to become the new owner.

Choosing The Right Lender

Let us just say this: All mortgage lenders are not the same. Actually, it wasn’t all that long ago that they were all more alike in how they made, processed, and charged borrowers for their mortgage loan. But those days are gone. (A little thing called The Great Recession made that necessary.) Now, many home buyers don’t realize that simply by not doing their due diligence – and shopping their loan around to multiple lendersthey can end up paying thousands of dollars more for their loan than they should. You read that right: Thousands.

Why? Because different regulations apply to different types of lenders. Mortgage Brokers (like Las Vegas’ locally-owned Premier Mortgage Lending) are regulated in how much they can charge for a mortgage loan – and they must fully disclose all charges to the borrower. Banks and Mortgage Bankers do not have the same restrictions; they can earn more from the borrower and not even have to disclose that information (so basically, they’re spending your money without even telling you about it). And you know what else? That extra few thousand dollars you’ll save by shopping around is money that can help you qualify for a larger loan, a different home, buy new furniture, or just put in your pocket. (Which all sounds a lot more fun to us than just handing it over to a bank – but that could just be us. ;-))

Actually, those five steps are just the beginning – because there are many other house hunting pitfalls that buyers can easily avoid, as long as they’re aware of them. We’ll help out with some more of those in a future post. But for now – remember these as you set out on your home-buying adventure, and you’re more likely to get the perfect home at the perfect price! Woo-hoo!

New Home Resource helps current and future homeowners with all of their Las Vegas real estate needs. Whether your preference is for a newly built home from a local builder, or a resale property in just the right location, a New Home Resource Realtor® is here to find the perfect property for you. Please contact a New Home Resource Realtor® today at 702-365-1000 or at www.newhomeresource.com. Broker Joanna Piette, and agents Denise Moreno Thrasher, Jessica O’Brien, Evelyn ‘Beng’ Kern, Lance Partin and Kathy Paterniti are all here to help!