Profile picture for cavyfreak442

Whats the first steps to looking for a house?

I am currently tossing the idea around looking for my first home.  I have no idea what I am doing.  I know I need to be sure of what I can afford (obviously) and things of that nature but I'm clueless otherwise.  I dont have amazing credit... it would be 'ok' at best I believe.  Do I talk to a real estate agent first and tell them straight out and go from there or what other options should i maybe look into first?  First time home buyer and I know I can handle a small downpayment but I was also told that there are possible programs to help me?  Any info would be appreciated.  Thanks!
  • January 17 2013 - Johnstown
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Answers (10)

Your first step would be to talk to a lender & get preapproved. If you would like some good local lender referrals let me know. Once you get preapproved find a good local REALTOR. You need to find someone you feel you can trust & have a good working relationship with. When buying a home this is a huge decision. Can be very exciting & very stressful at times. If you need any help let me know. You can read all my reviews here on zillow.com. Good luck in your home buying process!!
  • January 18 2013
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Profile picture for Rushel Reed
Yes. Lender first.  But don't forget to shop around for a lender.  You don't have to be a customer of a bank to qualify for a loan through that bank, so make sure you shop around for good mortgage rates.  Each lender offers different programs that will help you purchase your first home.

Second, analyze how you wish to live - and where.  Locate neighborhoods that you can afford and in which you'd like to live.  You will find an affordable home, but make sure it's a location worth owning for the next several years. This is a highly personal choice, but it's quite important when buying.
  • January 18 2013
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Profile picture for Neeraj Jassal
There are some good responses here - and some I don't necessarily agree with.

I do think that talking to a lender is a good place to start.  It will give you an idea of how much you can afford as well as the costs involved with purchasing real property.

Then, you should find an agent.  Why not ask your friends or family who they have had good experiences with?  Or, use Zillow to locate someone who will "teach" you what to expect?  The Zillow Reviews are a great resource to find someone who is like-minded and willing to hold your hand through the transaction.

The majority of my buyer clients are first time home buyers and the very first thing I have them do after they have talked to a lender is to put a Closing Cost Estimate in front of them so they understand the costs involved.  Then I explain the entire process from searching for homes, writing up contracts, inspections and, finally, settlement.

Do your homework and find someone good to work with, someone who will give you a great experience.  
  • January 18 2013
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It is crucial that you shop around for a mortgage broker that can explore all your financial options and give a pre approval letter for the amount that you afford.  Mortgage broker have access to many banks, private lenders and different programs.

Best of Luck,
Maria Cipollone
  • January 18 2013
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The absolute first step is to talk to a local lender and I would ask family and friends to recommend one to you. You need to get a pre-approval letter from them that will have to be presented if you find a home you want to put an offer in on.Also that way you will  know what price range to start looking at. From there find a buyers agent (realtor) to represent YOU in the transaction.
  • January 18 2013
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Hello Cavyfreak,( A guinea pig lover I see)  Unfortunately there are those posters among us on Zillow who paint ALL real estate agents with a negative broad brush. They have nothing nice to say about our industry or any of us who are dedicated professionals.

 I agree that some agents are self minded. Some are down right incompetent.  I have been misdiagnosed by Doctors numerous times.  I had to seek out the best in the field to get second opinions.  Should I bash all Doctors?  Should I spend hours researching ailments and practice self diagnoses?

  I disagree that you should avoid using an agent or getting sound advice.  That said - I invite you to read my referrals on Zillow and judge me and what I say accordingly. 

I don't work in your market but if you would like to email me privately I will give you some basic advice. Before selecting an agent you should interview them and ask them questions.

 If you would like to find an agent in your area who is a dedicated professional I can assist you in finding one.  (I WILL NOT ask for a referral fee from that agent) There are those of us who practice both ethically and professionally without worshiping the almighty dollar.

 

 
  • January 18 2013
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Profile picture for hpvanc
Contacting an agent, or for that matter a lender first, is definitely at your own peril.  Remember agents are primarily salespeople, even if they try to convince you they are a "buyers" representative.  The unfortunate reality of the system is, too many of them will be more than happy to "help" you into purchasing whatever gets them an easy commission, not what is in your best interest financially and personally.

I would recommend you start at the library to begin your education.  The combination of trying to buy only good reference materials and budget constraints do a fairly good job of weeding out reference material on the scam du jour.  After you have learned what you can at the library go back on line with your new found knowledge and ability to recognize scams and continue your education.  Once you feel you have a good handle on the market and the process, start attending some open houses, hopefully this phase will last long enough that a few of the open housed you you attended have sold, reinforcing your ability to estimate value.

From the personal financial perspective, concurrently while you study up on the market and purchasing process you can develop budget of what you can comfortably afford.  Be sure to account for unexpected repairs within that budget. With that knowledge of what you can afford combined with your market knowledge, you can then go to a lender to validate your idea of what can afford (if you can afford more, great but you should probably stick to your original budget).  After all that, you can then contact several agents interview them rigorously and start looking based on your (not necessarily your maximum approval) predetermined budget.  The bottom line is you need to do your own homework first, before contacting agents or lenders.
  • January 17 2013
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As a Realtor, I frequently find myself guiding a First Time Buyer through the purchase of their first home.  And while another contributer is correct in pointing out that there are resources online where you can do some preliminary research, its also quite helpful to have a licensed professional help you navigate the process.  I encourage you to ask friends and family if they can recommend a local Realtor with whom they had a positive experience.  A quality Realtor gets the majority of their business through referrals from past clients.  Once you find a Realtor, they can help you find a Lender.  I believe having a great Loan Officer is just as important as having a great Realtor so don't just walk in to any bank or use some online mortgage calculator.  You want a Loan Officer who will not only answer all your questions but who can successfully get your mortgage to the closing table.  Your Realtor will know this type of Loan Officer.   Once you have that team in place, your trip to home ownership is on the right track.
Good luck! 
  • January 17 2013
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As a real estate professional, it's my job to guide you through the home buying process and the very first thing you should do is talk with a mortgage professional.  They will look at your credit and finances and let you know the amount of loan or monthly payment you can afford.  The first question any realtor will ask you or should ask you is "Have you been preapproved for a mortgage?  There are some great programs out there for first time home buyers.  You want to find a lender that can give you a low interest rate and eliminate PMI (private mortgage insurance). PMI is required if your down payment is less than 20%.  I would recommend you get preapproved by a bank you have a relationship with and after meeting with a realtor, he or she may be able to recommend a lender who can do better or eliminate PMI.  I hope this helps and the best of luck becoming a home owner!
  • January 17 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
NO, don't go talk with a real estate agent first!!!!

This is the biggest financial decisions of your life, and a real estate agent is a salesperson not an educator. (They don't earn any money until they sell you a house.)   Do some background studying before contacting professionals.

Zillow's buyer's roadmap is worth reading. 

the hud website is worth reading.

The first professional to speak with would be a lender (after doing some reading).


  • January 17 2013
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