House hunting can be insanely overwhelming. Especially if it’s your first time buying! And knowing how to get started can be the hardest part. Even knowing how to start this post about buying a house is challenging. Keep in mind as you read this… this process looks different for everyone. So I’m going to share the beginning steps that Max and I took to get the ball rolling! Fair warning… this is going to be sort of a long read.
Step 1: Get up close and personal with your finances.
Step 1 is actually the hardest. Money (unless you’re making a shit load of it) isn’t a super fun topic. And can bring on a ton of stress. So take your time with this bit. Look over all of your current bills. Look at how much you are saving every month. But most importantly, look at where you’re spending any extra money. Are you going out to eat 3 times a week? Do you stop at Home Goods for new throw pillows every month? It may be time to cut back on that. Make sure you know exactly where you money is going and when to help prep for a downpayment and your ability to get a loan. For more budgeting tips check out this post.
Step 2: Decide on your timeline.
Are you locked into a lease? Or is your timeline a little more flexible. For us, we are able to break our lease any time between now and August 28th. However, that also means that we only have until August 28th to find a place to live.
Step 3: Get pre approved & figure out your budget.
Finding a lender can be really overwhelming. Who we started with, is not who we have decided to end with. When we first began the process, we worked with a private mortgage broker. But the broker only offered two types of loans and were not terribly flexible about the structure of those loans. So we consulted a local bank who has a reputation for helping families with smaller incomes in customizing a loan to their clients needs. This has worked much better for us. Once your lender looks at your finances for the pre approval, you’ll know exactly what sort of budget you’re working with!
Step 4: Choose your team!
Having a team of people on your side makes a huge difference in the entire process. Remember… word of mouth is the best form of marketing. Ask around! Talk to your friends, family coworkers, your dentist, whatever. I would bet anything that they can tell you what realtors are great, and what ones to stay away from. We got SO LUCKY with our realtor. She’s amazing. She’s been helping us on our hunt (on and off as our situations have changed) for the last 2 years. She’s actually the one who advised on the best lender options for us.
Step 5: Pick your location.
This is where the fun parts start. Time to decide WHERE you want to live. Are you restricted by school zones? Or are you able to venture out a little bit? We have the flexibility of no kiddos right now, so we’re looking in about a 30 mile radius from our office.