Do not open any new lines of credit. Do not pay off student loans. Do not go put a bunch of furniture on layaway. All of these things will have an effect on your credit and ability to buy. They can also diminsh your cash reserves. Consult with your lender before doing anything like this.
Put together a list of must haves and would like items. Be prepared to be flexible. Also try to determine some geographic boundaries for where you want to live - Zip Code, School District, Street Boundaries, etc.
Pick an agent that is patient and that you feel comfortable with. You will spend lots of time with them during this journey/process of home buying. They should not push you. Buy when you are ready and know that you really want the property. Be prepared however that today's market involves multiple offers in almost every property that is nice and priced under $250K. You may have to write 5-10 offers to secure a home. There will always be another property coming to market.
Get a home inspection - Best Money you can spend. DO NOT SKIP THIS ONE!!!
Get all documentation required by your lender to them a.s.a.p.
If you want more information and to view some great videos please visit http://www.realtyremarks.com
You will love Arizona and I hope for the chance to interview for the job. you will find some wonderful agents out here too. Good luck on your search.
I have a web site that has a page with some outlines for buying in Arizona. I wrote it as a resource for a general outline to help buyers.
There are so many circumstances that vary from buyer to buyer and the property type that there really is no ons size fots all tips list to cover all those. I'll do the best I can though with these suggestions.
I would say that the biggest and in my opinion one of the most important things that should be at the top of any buyers check list is Financing. Buyers need to first understand what they can purchase. Mortgage financing has changed dramatically in the last few years. Buyers are put under a lot of scrutiny so any credit issues are best taken care of before you get feet deep in a purchase contract only to find out you can't qualify for a mortgage.
The second of course is working with a Realtor who will provide the lever of service needed with 1st time home buyers, preferably an experienced Realtor. Since I also have a lending background I kind of have an advantage over most Realtors because I have seen both sides of the story.
The 3rd might be to work accurately and be organized with your searches. I provide a real time Phoenix MLS Search from our Realtor MLS so that clients can look for homes that are "truly active" unlike most IDX search engines that will pull in AWC properties (Active With Contingent Offers) which are typically short sales. It saves them a lot of time and greif. They can also save their homes they find in a search portal that I can later review and organize a list for our home showings.
The 4th would be to understand that short sale properties are starting to dominate the market and they should be prepared for that with an understanding of what's the level of expectation should be once an offer is accepted by the seller. Short Sale contracts can take months to close, generally 4-6 months.
Lastly, be aware that Bank Owned or REO properties for sale by lenders usually have no property history disclosure and are sold in "as is" condition. Some will make repairs some will not. You are best to consult with an experienced realtor about Foreclosed Home purchases before writing an offer.
I would invite any First Time Home Buyer (or not) to take a look through my web site and review some of the great tools there which of course are at no cost.
Remember, Sellers Pay Buyers Agents to represent Buyers so there is essentially no cost to any buyer to have real estate representation!
Stew Keene - Professional Real Estate Agent - Scottsdale And Phoenix