In step one you selected the real estate agent and mortgage lender you thought were the best fit for you. In step two you set reasonable expectations for your home search. Now that you are ready to begin looking at houses it is time to buckle down and get serious.
The best way to prove to home sellers that you are a serious buyer is to have an approval letter from your lender. Not a pre-qualification letter but a pre-approval letter that states your lender has verified your income and expenses and you have received approval for a mortgage through the desktop underwriting system. Having this letter from your lender will be an important part of any offer you make.
First of all it will put you in a position to be able to make an offer. A smart seller won’t even respond to your offer until they have some sort of verification that you have spoken with a lender. Most buyers only have a pre-qualification letter which just means the lender thinks they can provide the buyer with a mortgage based on what the borrower has told them. Your pre-approval letter will put your offer in a better light with the seller. The seller will be more inclined to consider your offer as your mortgage has already cleared one hurdle to approval. A buyer with only a pre-qualification letter could end up being a colassal waste of time for the seller.
Speaking of wasting time…During this phase of your home search it is vitally important that you communicate with your Realtor and that she understands what you are saying. No one wants all that driving around town to be a waste of time. While you are standing in a house, tell your real estate agent what you like and what you don’t like. Tell her why. The goal is for you and your realtor to be on the same page about what you want so that she can present you with homes that have the things that are important to you. It is one thing to put your “must haves” on paper but once you start looking at houses that list can change. It is not uncommon for first time home buyers to think they know what they are looking for only to look at a few houses and find out that really wasn’t what they wanted or it was something they could live without.
It may take a time or two of looking at houses with your Realtor® for her to really get a feel for the kind of house you are looking for. By the second time you go out looking at houses and for sure the third you should be seeing homes that are in the same ballpark of what you want. They won’t all be THE house but if you want 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a fenced back yard then you certainly shouldn’t be looking at 2 bed, 1 bath, zero lot line homes just because they are in your price range.
This is the fun part of your home search so don’t forget to enjoy it. Don’t get discouraged if your home search takes longer than you had hoped. The house for you is somewhere out there and it will be clear to you when you have found it. The bonus is that because of all of your hard work and diligence you have two great professionals working for you to make the deal happen.