Browsing through home-listing sites can be an exciting part of looking for a new home. When you’re scrolling through listing after listing, many houses can seem like they have dream-home potential. However, if you decide take action on a listing you love, you may find that shopping for a home unprepared can quickly lead to disappointment. That’s why we’ve put together these four essential tips to help keep your dream alive. Here are a few pointers before diving into online house-hunting:
1. Become familiar with the homebuying process
Even if you’ve been through the process before, taking a refresher course can significantly speed up the process and help you prepare for the unexpected. Homebuyer education classes are often free and many provide you with a homebuyer education certificate, which may be required for certain down payment assistance programs. HomeStreet Bank partners with state housing finance commissions to hold free homebuyer classes on a monthly basis. You can find a full list of our upcoming classes here.
2. Find out what you can afford
It’s so important to know how much home you can afford. In many cases, prospective homeowners are shopping outside of, or even below their price range entirely. A quick consultation with a home finance professional can quickly help you identify what you can afford. It may even lead you to houses that you hadn’t previously considered! You will be able to shop more confidently knowing you can make a competitive offer when you find a house that piques your interest.
3. Obtain a pre-qualification letter
A pre-qualification letter from a Loan Officer reflects your ability to qualify for a loan. Having this in hand can help you act more quickly once you’ve found a home that you’re serious about making an offer to purchase. The first step toward getting a pre-qualification letter is to make an appointment with a Loan Officer for a complimentary, no obligation consultation to assess your financial situation. Meeting with a Loan Officer can also help you identify loan programs that fit your needs and lay the groundwork for obtaining financing.
4. Start researching neighborhoods
A few quick searches around the web can provide a wealth of knowledge about which neighborhoods you’d love to live in. Websites like walkscore.com provide a thorough report of the various neighborhoods surrounding most major cities. This site provides information about local transit & biking conditions, crime maps, and (no big surprise) walkability. If you have kids, or plan to, and want to find a community with a good school, sites like greatschools.org can give you the report card of an area’s local schools. Do you have a foodie in your house? Eater.com provides a variety of food focused maps that can help you pin down the perfect neighborhood for your inner food connoisseur. Considering local amenities like this, before you start shopping can not only help narrow your search, but also help you feel confident you’ll purchase a home in a community that meets your needs and indulges your lifestyle.
With a good mix of research, a loan consultation you can trust, and in-person visits to your future neighborhood, you’ll be better equipped to browse any home-listing site with confidence you’ll find a home you can afford in a location you love.