Lisa Escue (CDPE), with RE/MAX Masters II in Grapevine, Texas, outlines these steps you should take before buying a home:
Step 1. Find a Local Lender You Can Talk To in Person
Local lenders understand your market and know of loan programs that might be beneficial to you.
Check with your lender on any local programs that might help with closing costs or in other ways. Even though the media have pronounced the 100-percent-financing option dead, this is not always the case. Check it out for yourself and then get preapproved for a loan so you know how much house you're able to buy.
Step 2. Be Specific in the Area You Want To Live
Educate yourself. Familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods you're interested in, the taxes and school districts. This not only helps you narrow down your search when you need to move fast, but also helps you figure out potential mortgage payments. Find a home in your desired neighborhoods.
Step 3. Find an Agent Specializing in the Area You Want to Live
This will save you time and effort. Once you've identified a real estate agent, trust him or her to do the job. Agents who are thriving in this challenging market have proven their worth. They have the resources and skills to help you find your next home.
Step 4. Don't Shy Away From Houses That Need Some Work
Just because a house needs some paint or cosmetic fixes doesn't mean it's not a good buy. Most real estate agents have an address book full of trusted businesses they work with to help you fix up your new home. There’s an HUD program known as 203(k) that enables you to fold repair money into a primary mortgage; ask a RE/MAX agent in your market about the program.
Read more about the 203(k) program.
Step 5. Be Prepared To Act
Sometimes the first home you see is the right one for you. Don't discount it. Remember, good deals still go fast. Take advantage of the electronic tools your real estate agent has to offer. In many instances, real estate agents have access to better information than what you can find in a standard Internet search.
Find a RE/MAX real estate agent in your area.
Find homes for sale in your desired neighborhoods.
The advice offered here comes from sales associates affiliated with independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices and may not be applicable to all areas. Contact an independent RE/MAX real estate agent near you for expertise tailored to your locale.