1. Get Pre-qualified with a lender
2. Make sure you understand and have the necessary funds to complete the transaction
3. Find a Qualified, Full-Time, Buyer Agent / Rep in your Area
4. Give them your Needs & Wants in a property
5. Let them set you up on an Auto-Prospect Database Search to send you properties that meet that criteria
6. Select your best picks from your computer & print out
7. Drive by the best prospects to see if they pass the drive by test
8. Give your Agent a list of homes that you would like to preview
9. Preview homes with your Agent
10. Select your top choices
11. Have your Agent run a CMA / Market Analysis to help you determine a reasonable offer
12. Sign offer with your Agent
13. Once you have a contract, get your inspections scheduled
14. Let your Agent negotiate any needed repairs within the deadline
15. Work with Lender to process loan
16. Communicate with Agent for final Walk-Through & Closing
Last but not least - Let Agent handle details and Have Fun!
As a home finance professional, I agree with the responses below that tell you to get pre-approved. But as a one-time, first time homebuyer myself, I commend you for answering your question by way of your own action here.
Best things to help you do it right? Ask questions. Get educated. Build relationships with those who can help you.
I think you're on the path to all of the above. Great job!
Given that you describe yourself as a "first time potential buyer" I believe the most critical first step for you in the home buying process is a Pre-Approval (not a Pre-Qualification, there's a BIG difference).
You can certainly waste time by not taking this initial step; you can also miss the opportunity of buying a home that would have met your needs perfectly. Donâ€™t make this mistake!
Please review this post. There's a link in the post that provides a detailed summary of what the differences are between a Pre-Approval and Pre-Qualification.
Also, here's some basic info regarding the new Home Buyer Tax Credit
The first thing you should do, is choose a buyer agent to work with you. Find one that you can easily communicate with. An excellent buyer agent will explain everything to you..every step of the way to home ownership.
Congratulations for a great decision !
Its kinda scary isnt it. You're off on the right track. Trulia is a great resource to learn about buying and financing real estate. Reading Q&A from the professionals who contribute here gives great insight. You can learn a lot about a real estate agents and mortgage advisors by reading their blogs. Then ask yourself, do they sound informed? Talk with the people in your sphere of influence to see if someone had a "great" real estate experience and get a referral.
Choosing a mortgage professional is an important next step. Connecting with a person who will take the time to educate you is key. Also pick someone who is accessible and responds to your requests "timely". Getting pre-approved is not so bad. Look for someone who will teach you about:
1) how much you qualify for vs. how much you should spend based on your finances
2) compare different loan programs, down payments, credit requirements
3) how interest rates work including locking
4) costs that go into financing a loan
5) property taxes and homeowners ins
6) impounds for taxes & insurance (required or not)
6) Mello Roos, Home Owners Associations (HOA) and flood ins (if applicable)
7) what to expect when an offer is accepted
8) how the escrow process works
9) what not to do after you have been pre-approved
This is a good start. A great lender has great real estate agents they can introduce you to. Did you know the buyer agent you choose is paid by the seller. It doesn't cost you anything, but their expertice and negotiating skills play an important role in your success.
One more thing. Consider this when picking your mortgage advisor. If you choose a bank, expect to be charged hundreds of dollars in upfront application/pre-approval fees. A mortgage broker has to adhere to different laws that only allow you to be charged the face value of a credit report ($12.00 to $16.00). Nothing else before an escrow is opened.
All the Best!
Know your credit score.
Talk with a financial professional to find out what you can afford.
Talk with a real estate agent about the your local market and what opportunities exist for first time buyer.
See if you qualify for an assistance programs or tax credits.
Then look at homes to see if what you can afford fits your lifestyle wants/needs.
Some more great web sites:
Down loadable pdf that details the process
If you have a less than perfect credit score the blog below could help you to improve your fico score.
I did not write the blogs above. They give great information. Please look at them also. I would even copy and save them to your personal documents on your computer.
The first step is to get pre-approved so you know what you'll be able to afford. Do you have a down payment? With FHA loans you can put as little as 3.5% down. If you need a referral to a lender, I can connect with a couple.
Also, you are going to want to work with a Realtor that can show you properties. What areas are you considering? It's best to meet first and get a sense of your wants and needs.
Let me know if I can help!
The Carrabba Group
Keller Williams Hollywood Hills
First and foremost get prequalified before anything else it will save a lot of time when you find the house you love you will be prepared to make a strong offer (you will also understand how much you can afford). I made my offer before getting prequalified and spent about two weeks finding a lender to back me which could have been time spent on getting my house closed. In the end I ended up closing 5 days after I was supposed to and had to pay for an extension.
After you are prequalified find yourself a GOOD agent. Look at a couple houses with different agents and find out what you like in an agent before signing any contracts with them. You want someone who will be able to walk you through the whole process (Escrow is a big confusing beast) I did not have a good agent I was on my own through the process and had to find a lot of things out on my own
(the other blog is below)
This should help you a lot.
I would also look at my credit report. Ask a local lender to pull your fico score but only one time. Then taking that with you you can find out interest rates for your situation.
3 reasons home prices are heading lower
Housing Inventory Still Dramatically Oversupplied â€” Before You Add In The Foreclosures
3 Mortgages Get Worse For Each 1 that Improves
Resets Projected to Cause Mortgage Crisis in 2010
Q3 2009 U.S. Foreclosure Heat Map
A nationwide forecast for real estate is below. Look on the left side, click on your state
(forecasts are not always correct, some areas will be different based on micro markets)
http://www.housingpredictor.com/california.html (for california)
âˆ’ 8.9% Los Angeles price is expected. (drop in value)
Battered by an economy in crisis, unemployment ranging as high as 30% and rising bankruptcies California housing markets are teetering on the brink of a turn around in some areas of the state.
California illustrates just how bad things can get when unethical mortgage lending practices are combined with Wall Street manipulation. The economy is sliding as unemployment and foreclosures rise, and real estate is suffering through record financial losses. Government efforts are being made to right the wrongs as California faces the worst economic downturn since at least the Great Depression.
In Los Angeles, pushed by the federal government's first time home buyers' tax credit, home prices inched up as sales rose. The free-fall in housing prices leveled out, but a glut of properties in the foreclosure pipeline are adding to problems that threaten stabilization.