Home buying can be a daunting task, if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Here are three valuable tips to help make your home-buying experience a success!
1. Get to Know Your Credit Score
Did you know that you have dozens of different FICO scores and each is used for different qualification purposes? Just this year, the Fair Isaac Corporation (creators of the FICO score) announced that homebuyers will now be privy to versions of their credit scores that were previously “unavailable to them, including the ones most commonly used by mortgage lenders,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
You might be thinking, “Well, can’t I just use Equifax, Experian or TransUnion to see my FICO score?” Yes, you can, however, a lender is going to look at older scores that may paint a completely different picture than the other three credit-reporting sites. It’s best to compare apples to apples so that you are aware of any red flags or areas of improvement with your credit that may need to be taken care of before shopping for a mortgage. By being in the know, you’ll be able to better assess how much you qualify for, the best interest rates for your credit score, where you can and can’t shop, and etc. Check out myFICO.com for a more accurate picture of your credit score.
2. Hire a Competent, Knowledgeable Realtor
The last thing you want to do is to enter your home buying experience blindly, because, as with any industry, there are some bad seeds out there that can really do you in when it comes to loans – just look what happened with the unfortunate sub-prime mortgage crisis from 2007 to 2009. Therefore, it’s always best to have an expert professional to help you navigate through such a decisive and momentous occasion to ensure that you’re not being taken advantage of when buying a home.
Things to look for in a realtor include, but are not limited to: a) verify the individual has a valid real estate license, here (Tip: use “Last Name, First Name” format in the search field); b) review the agent’s rating and testimonials from past clients online via Zillow, Realtor.com, Redfin, or social media pages; c) check for additional certifications or designations, like SRES® (Seniors Real Estate Specialist); d) ensure that the agent is friendly, responsive, considerate, and patient with all of your home-buying needs from the initial call; and, last but not least, e) verify that the agent specializes in or is familiar with the areas in which you’re looking to buy.
3. Be Realistic About What You Can + Can’t Afford
Once you know what you’re qualified for and how much you can realistically afford, it’s time to go shopping! It’s important to not get discouraged if you don’t find the perfect home on your first outing, these things take time, patience, and diligence. It’s not uncommon for buyers to be become disheartened when they see what their money can’t buy, rather than focusing on what their money can buy. The Rolling Stones said it best, “You can’t always get what you want […] you get what you need.” Just because it’s not love at first sight the first time you view a home, doesn’t mean it can’t be the home of your dreams after some finishing touches of your own. A good agent will help you determine whether the property is a wise investment, and your heart will tell you whether you can make that house a home.
I hope these tips will help better prepare you for one of the most exciting and significant events in your life, which is finding a place to call home. My years of experience as an Orange County REALTOR® working with an array of clientele over the past decade has helped equipped me with the knowledge and resourced that enable me to successfully navigate my clients through even the most difficult transactions from start to closing. If you or someone you know is in the market to buy or sell a home and are looking for a dedicated realtor, then please don’t hesitate to contact me today.
Lindsey Acton, REALTOR®, SRES®
T: 714) 801-0175