Purchasing a home can be a confusing process. Do you contact a lender first? Do you contact a Realtor first? Do you start 3, 6, or 9 months in advance? We wish we could give you a straight timeline for when you should start the whole process, but it really depends on your circumstances.
If you’re moving due to a job change, chances are you have a pretty strict timeline for when you need to buy and you’ll probably need to start right away. If you’re not on a strict timeline, you’ll need to consider the state of your finances. Have you been working on your credit? Is it possible you’ll need to do so in the future? If there’s any doubt about your finances, you’ll want to contact a lender as soon as possible so you have enough time to complete the repair work before it’s time for you to buy. They’ll be the best source of information for the current state of your credit and can identify which problem areas to focus on improving to have the biggest impact on your score. You may already have a lender in mind. If not, you should contact a Realtor first. They’ll be able to recommend lenders they’ve had good experiences with.
Once you have a good handle on your finances, you should hire a Realtor, if you haven’t already connected with one for a lender referral or questions about the whole buying process. You can contact a Realtor prior to a lender, but know that they won’t have a big part in your straightening out your finances. They like to leave that to the financial experts. They handle the home search, negotiations, and contracts: you set the budget.
If you’re over a year out from moving but have your eyes on a specific area, a Realtor can set you up to receive listing alerts to allow you to monitor where prices are going. However, it’s important to keep in mind that viewing homes in person is pointless before you are pre-approved. Listings can go under contract fast and sellers won’t wait around for you to get your finances in order. Bottom line: don’t fall in love too soon.
It’s also important to know that most pre-approvals come with an expiration date of 30-90 days, depending on the lender. If you aren’t in the position to move within that timeframe, you should wait to be officially pre-approved. In the meantime, continue to work on your credit score and monitor the market.
If you’re thinking about buying in the Wilmington area and have questions about the process, give us a call at (910) 202-2546 or send us a message through our contact page. We’ll be happy to walk you through all of the steps of purchasing a home.