A. If you are getting ready to enter the purchasing market this season, there are several steps you can take to insure you are ready to buy and will be taken seriously. One of the worst things in my mind is to find the right place but then lose it because another buyer was better prepared and presented themselves as a surer choice.
1. Do some homework—make sure you have targeted a specific area where you want to move. Once you have done that, learn about prices for comparable homes that have sold. (Tip: A broker will help you with this.) You can tap some of the online resources such as Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com.
2. Have your "ducks in a row." Make sure your down payment amount is readily available. Proof of funds is usually one of the items required by sellers or their brokers.
3. Get a pre-approval from a bank. Be careful, however! A pre-qualification is not the same as a pre-approval. A pre-approval holds more weight and is more certain for a seller. Also, try to obtain a pre-approval from a bank as opposed to a mortgage broker. You can ultimately use whomever you wish for the mortgage.
4. Check up on your credit. Go to one of the free online services to find out your credit score to make sure you have no issues that need to be addressed.
5. Contact several local real estate agents and let them know you are going to be purchasing something this season. Tell them your wants/needs and put them to work.
6. Lawyer-up. Select a real estate attorney so that when you find the right property, you can move quickly to contract. One frustrating thing is to have an accepted offer knocked out by another due to delays.
7. If you are planning to purchase a house, choose a good engineer so that there will be minimal delays in inspecting the property.
8. If you are very nervous or inexperienced when it comes to buying, consider employing a buyer’s agent to help you through the process. However, be sure they have sufficient experience and knowledge to make a difference, otherwise it is pointless.
9. If you are renting, know when your lease ends. If it is soon, find out if your landlord will let you stay month to month. If it is a long-term lease, ask the landlord if they will let you out of it.
10. If you need to sell in order to buy, you probably need to be in the contract stage before any seller will consider your offer. Most sellers don't want to sell to someone who doesn't even have a buyer lined up yet.
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