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Countdown to Home Ownership


By Jen McCann, Realtor

The idea of buying a home can be exciting and a bit overwhelming at the same time. For some home buyers the process can take just a few weeks; for others, it can take as long as a year or more. While each situation is different, one thing is the same — advance planning and knowing what to expect along the way can help make the home buying process easier, less stressful, and hopefully even enjoyable.

So, let’s do a countdown to homeownership to help you determine where you might be on the road to buying your home:

12-Months
Getting your financing in place is the most critical step when looking to buy a home. You will want to talk with a lender (I highly recommend meeting with a local lender) to discuss your credit history, identify mortgage programs that best match your financial goals, talk about any potential changes in your work situation, and get educated on how best to manage personal debt.

With the help of your real estate agent, you’ll want to start thinking about your priority list for what you want in your home, as well as your ideal neighborhood.

9-Months
If you and your lender identified areas of your credit that needed to be addressed, you’ll want to check-in to make sure those action items have been completed and make sure the loan program is still the best fit for your goals.

As you continue exploring neighborhoods and making a list of what is most important to you in your home, you will want to start donating, consigning, or throwing away things you no longer want or use. It will make the moving process immensely easier if you begin this process early especially if you have kids or pets.

6-Months
For most Buyers, this is where they start. If you haven’t hired a real estate agent and met with a lender, do it as soon as possible! Picking a lender and real estate agent who you can talk with and trust is key to a successful home buying experience. Their knowledge and guidance will prove to be an invaluable resource throughout the home buying process and after you move into your home.

Your lender will confirm loan programs, buying power (purchase price range), amount of funds needed to buy the home, and more insight necessary to help you and your real estate agent submit a strong offer.

Your real estate agent will be able to show you properties that you have identified as possible homes and help you narrow down the priorities in your home and neighborhood as they fit into your price range.

3-Months
This is when life gets busy! You will be in regular contact with your lender ensuring your credit and financial picture remains the same as when you initially spoke or to discuss how to handle changes that may happen. Your lender and real estate agent will also be working together to ensure your financial goals and requirements are taken into consideration when selecting homes to preview as well as when you develop your offer.

You will probably have a new number on speed dial — your real estate agent. Together you will be watching for properties to come on the market, visiting properties until you find “the one,” discussing terms of an offer, celebrating a ratified contract, working through any contingencies, and going to settlement to get those keys!!

The final three months before purchasing a home are packed full of excitement and activity. It makes it much more enjoyable and less stressful when you have a team encouraging and guiding you along the way.

Hopefully, this gives you insight to help determine where you might be in the home buying process. If you have challenging credit, you may need more time to get your credit score up to a number that opens up better loan terms for you. Or, you have thought it would be longer than you thought before you could buy a home when in reality you may be six months or less from owning your home. Planning ahead and getting educated on the process will help you make the best decision for you when looking at buying a home.


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