If you started house searching it probably began online, browsing listings to see what is available and what they cost. This is a common first step. But consider this: the average home buyer will spend over four months house searching before they actually buy. During that time, you will compete with other home buyers to get the house you really want. To refine your house search, and make sure you’re ready to take action when you find the right house, we’ve outlined four tips to help you beat out other home buyers.
Tip #1: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Before you can really start house searching, you need to lay some groundwork. Priority number one is to figure out where you want to live. Things to consider include not only the city or town, but the neighborhoods, school districts, community amenities, and of course the cost of living.
The next step is to download and fill out the Homes for Heroes home buying checklist. It will help nail down your priorities for the type of house you want, including the must haves and nice to have items.
Once you’ve documented what you really want, you’ll also need to figure out how much house you can afford. This will help you to organize your current monthly income, expenses and debt. This important information is what a lender will need to determine a loan amount for you. To determine the price of house you can afford, it’s best to talk to a mortgage specialist (lender or loan officer) and get pre-approved for a home loan.
Tip #2: Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval
Before you search for a house you need a pre-approved home loan estimate. Getting pre-approved for a home loan is the best, most accurate way to determine the price you can pay for a house. For home sellers to take you seriously you will need to show them a pre-approval letter. A pre-approval letter tells the seller you can afford to pay for the house.
A mortgage pre-approval is determined based on your actual financial history and will require an official credit check conducted by the lender. A pre-approval is not a binding agreement, instead it is an estimate of the loan amount you can receive to pay for a home.
- Check Credit Reports and Credit Score – By taking this step early in the process, you can clean up any incorrect information on your credit reports, and learn whether you qualify for certain mortgage loan types.
- Complete Loan Application – The lender will ask you to complete a loan application to begin the process of a credit check.
- Financial Information – Lender will ask you to submit the following to run a credit check:
- Income: You will need to submit 30 days of pay stubs, previous two years of W2s and tax returns, freelance work or side hustle income, overtime, commissions, bonuses, Social Security payments received, VA and retirement benefits received, alimony or child support received, interest and/or dividend income from investments.
- Assets: You will need to submit the previous 60 days of your bank account statements (both checking and savings), any investment account information and proof of assets (IRA, 401k, etc), and any gift letters from family or friends gifting you money. This shows the gift money is not a loan.
- Personal Information: Photo ID (valid drivers license or passport), and you’ll need your social security number so the lender can run a credit check.
Homes for Heroes mortgage specialists are a great resource to handle the pre-approval process. Simply register online and we will automatically connect you with our mortgage specialist in your community. They will answer your questions and walk you through the pre-approval process. The average savings is $500 if you decide to work with them through the closing process.
With a home loan pre-approval in hand, you can quickly put an offer on a home when you find it. This is a big competitive advantage in getting the home you want.
Tip #3: Work with a Real Estate Agent
Working with a real estate agent is the best way to speed up your house search and make sure you don’t lose out to other interested buyers. Homes for Heroes real estate specialists are experienced real estate agents who know the market, current price trends, and can lead you through the house searching, negotiating and buying process. They are committed to serving heroes like you. Heroes can save an average of $1,700 by working with our real estate specialists. Simply register online to be automatically connected with our real estate specialist in your area. They will contact you to introduce themselves and answer all of your questions.
House searching is a lot of work. Our real estate specialist can simply make your life much easier by setting up home tours, preparing paperwork, coordinating with sellers and negotiating on your behalf. This can take a lot of the legwork out of your house searching and allow you to find the home you want much faster.
Most buyers want to see a home in person before buying, and you should. Pictures online can hide a lot of the flaws. Your agent can coordinate in-person showings with the selling agent. Plus, not all houses are available to the public online. Your real estate agent has access to all house listings to assure you do not miss out on any potential homes for sale.
Tip #4: Save on Home and Mortgage Services
There is no need for heroes like you to waste time trying to find a qualified real estate agent or loan officer. Our real estate and mortgage specialists are committed to serving heroes like you, and saving you significant money through the home buying process. We pride ourselves in serving those who serve us every day. Giving back to heroes through the savings we provide is our way to say thank you.
Ready to kick off your house search with the help of local experts? Register with Homes for Heroes and our real estate and mortgage specialists will make your house searching so much easier and save you money in the process.