It’s a Saturday afternoon and you see an open house in your favorite neighborhood. You walk through and instantly know it’s the one. (#vibes) There are a few offers already in, but with higher rates, the house is a little over your price range. The lender you had is not answering the phone. What to do? While you may not find yourself in this specific scenario, it’s just one of the many scenarios playing out in today’s market. Some homes are “flying off the shelves” and others are staying put for a bit. We’re also experiencing a high-rate environment, which has caused many to lower their budgets. All of this to say—we’re in a unique market right now, and it’s more important than ever to prepare for buying a home. We’ve promised three specific tips, so let’s get right to it.
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Co-written by Josh Morris (NMLS: 1993042) and Emily Welch at Lower.com
If we think about buying a house like a stage production, you and your future new home are the performers, but there’s a lot more that goes into it than just showing up and performing. You’ll need a set design, a director to keep everything on track, and stage hands to keep everything moving. In buying a home, that’s your real estate agent, your mortgage lender, and their teams. As with any play or musical, buying a home is always going to be better with better support. And it’s especially important with the complexities of today’s market. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your supporting cast:
Your agent and loan advisor should be, first and foremost, full time. It shouldn’t be a side gig or an afterthought. You want a partner that’s going to be available for you whenever you need them. If they have another job or higher priorities, that can unravel quickly. For real estate agents, being full time and present means being able to show you properties, even after work or on the weekends. For loan advisors, it’s about being able to update documents or run a financial scenario at any time. Knowing your support team is full time is a great start to a successful transaction.
“Be real with yourself when looking for an agent and a loan advisor. Watch for things like availability. If you work on a factory floor and can’t answer a call or get time off, you’re going to want a team that can be there for you after hours. That’s something many pros can’t offer.” --Josh Morris, AVP of Lending at Lower.com
No matter how much preparation you’ve put into buying a home, it’s a complex process. There will likely be something that needs special care whether it’s a low appraisal, a higher bidder, or remedies before closing. And all of those things are so much more manageable when you have partners that are there to work with you and keep spirits high. Even if they can’t solve a problem, they can be positive in their interactions and take the time to explain things to you. Sounds nice, right?
There are people out there who know the rules, the programs, and have a ton of experience. Then there are people have all of those skills, AND know how to use them to your advantage. Years of experience doesn’t instantly guarantee an agent or lender is going to knock it out of the park for you. After telling them your situation, are they knowledgeable about how to handle it? Are they repeating your needs? Are they digging deeper? Or are they trying to fit you into a set plan that doesn’t seem to be working? Which leads us to our last trait to look for in an agent or lender partner.
Ok, so your agent and loan advisor are available, positive, and knowledgeable—but are they truly with you? When you have your first meeting with them, are they acknowledging your specific situation? Is your agent working with you where you are? Are they trying to find creative solutions? Put simply, are things flowing like they would a good friendship? Don’t let a sub-par experience lead you to believe anything else—these are all qualities that exist in agents and loan advisors, it’s just a matter of finding the right partner. Give us a call or tell us more about you and we can help.
“Find someone who will celebrate the little wins along the way, not just closing. They should be active and engaged in your journey. You deserve it.”
If you stop and think about it, you may see there’s so much unnecessary pressure on a first home. Many people believe it needs to be the perfect find—after all, it’s likely your largest purchase up to this point. But zooming out and focusing on your long-term plan will be beneficial in this market, and any market really.
The average person will own at least three houses in their lifetime. Let that really sink in. The home you’re searching for now is—statistically—not your forever home. So let that take some of the pressure off.
Instead, focus on the long term. If you’re currently renting and want to start building equity instead, let that be your goal. If you’re living with friends or family, let getting your own place be the goal. Those things are more beneficial to you in the long term than finding the perfect place with all the conveniences or amenities you desire now. You might even be able to rent out the home you’re buying in the future.
If you’ve gotten pre-approved in the past few years, that pre-approval likely won’t stretch as far in 2023/2024 as long as rates are this high. So, buying a house now might require a little repositioning of priorities. Zooming out in Tip #2 also comes with resetting expectations of your future home. Take a second to jot down a list of your dealbreakers for homes you’re looking for, or revisit a previous list you may have made. Is there ANY wiggle room? For example, in previous years you may have really wanted a commute under 20 minutes. But if you expand that radius to under 40 minutes, does that give you more choices within your budget? Remember, all it takes is finding that one property that works for you.
And to bring it all full circle, a great supporting team will be active in helping you zoom out and see the positive each step of the way.
To get your own homebuying team together, just tell us about you and we’ll get started ASAP.
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