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What to do Before You Contact a Realtor

Paul Jamison of the Jamison Family of Companies speaks with Sandy Dickinson of Cross Country Mortgage about Paul’s predictions for the new year, what to do before you contact a Realtor, wish lists, and working with a Realtor.

Paul’s Predictions for the New Year

Happy New Year to All! Paul is thankful for 2023, and is so excited for the new year ahead, 2024! He predicts that 2024 is going to be motivated by money (and masks). He thinks there will be a slight drop in mortgage rates, due to it being an election year. If the rates can stay consistently around 6% or lower (conventional mortgages), the real estate market could explode! People who may have been waiting to sell due to higher rates back in 2023 will begin to sell again. Rentals are still going strong because people continue to move around a lot. His advice for the year ahead is to listen to less news, and focus more on positive, happy, and upbeat messages and people.

What to Do Before You Contact a Realtor

When buying a new home, before you even think about contacting a Realtor or looking at homes, there are several things you need to do:

  1. Contact a lender. Your lender can do a soft pull (which won’t affect your credit score).  They can run wizards for different scenarios, and give you a pre-approval letter with a price range that you can comfortably afford. This is very important especially if you are self-employed, as those calculations can get very complicated. In the pre-approval process, the lender looks at your cash, credit, and income, and will ask for bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc. It is not the full underwriting process, but it’s close enough to make you feel comfortable moving forward in the right direction. You don’t want to go house-hunting and find the home of your dreams, only to find out that you cannot afford it! So, prepare financially and get your documents in order before even starting to look for a house.
  1. Check your credit report. Check your credit report with the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to make sure all is in order. Do not file formal disputes, as they are very difficult to remove. If you are an authorized user on someone else’s account, verify that everything is in order there, too.

  1. Build up your cash reserves. You’ll need to save money for a down payment. You also need money for closing costs, due diligence money, and earnest money. There may be things that you may want to buy for your new home, and you may need to fix or repair some things. Certain loan products may require a minimum number of months’ worth of cash available at closing.

Wish List

Now that you have your finances in order, you’re ready to create your “Wish List”. This is a list of things you need, things you want, and things you can afford. You may want a million dollar house, but you probably don’t want that monthly payment. You may want a historic home, but don’t want the maintenance or repairs. You may want to live uptown, but don’t want to live in a condo or townhome with high HOA dues and tight neighbors. Maybe you want a large yard for a large dog, or maybe you don’t want a yard at all. Whatever it is that you want, make sure that you can afford it before you run all around town (and drag your Realtor around!) looking for a needle in a haystack.

Working With a Realtor

After your finances are in order and you have created your Wish List, now it’s time to contact a Realtor and start to look at homes! Your Realtor can set you up on an MLS search which will return properties that match your Wish List. You may want an open floor plan, a water view, etc. Sometimes, where you start isn’t always where you finish.

Once you have identified the property you would like to own, you’re ready to make an offer! Work with your Realtor to review comparable properties in the area (“comps”) and to determine a good starting offer. If you make an offer over asking price (which often happens in this crazy market), the property may not appraise. Do not hesitate too long if you want to make an offer…If you sleep on it, you may not sleep in it!

You’ll want to have a home inspection, and you’ll need to get home insurance lined up. The appraisal determines market value, not the value of the home’s decorations. A new roof, and new water heater don’t always equate into a higher value, especially if the other homes in the area also have those same things. Those things may however make the home more attractive to potential buyers, as they’ll be happy to not have to spend money on large ticket maintenance items the minute they move in. Next step is closing day! Buyers should not have any surprises on closing day. Often the lender and the Realtor will be present to help answer any questions and/or address items with the closing attorney.

Rely on your team of professionals to help you get into your new dream home, and have a great year ahead 2024!

We’re to Help!

To discuss property management, property investment, property maintenance, selling, buying, the local real estate market, and all things real estate related, contact the expert team of trusted advisors at Jamison Realty at (704) 846-3663. To learn more about property investment in particular, purchase Paul’s book, Opportunity is Knocking, which is chock full of information and tips to get every new investor well on their way to success.

We will be with you every step of the way. Also, listen to Your Real Estate Today radio show every Saturday afternoon on WBT for fun and interesting real estate information and special guests!

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