Finding your dream home can be different for every person and every couple. Nowadays it is so common for people to surf websites like Zillow and almost as if they are scrolling through their own Facebook or Instagram feeds. The truth is, there is a lot more that goes into finding the right home than just surfing the web, so let’s dive in!

Guest writer Jenn Hoeper

Step 1: Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

Most couples are not sure where to begin when looking for a home. They might know that they like home X over home Y, but the real question is, how do they even go about buying a home? The first step is to speak with a mortgage lender about getting preapproved. If you are not familiar with a lender, the best thing to do is ask your friends, family, or your realtor for recommendations.

Once you select a mortgage lender, they will schedule a time to meet (or call you) to go over your financial situation. You will provide them with any documents they request which will allow them to determine what price you can actually afford. They will give you estimates of what you can expect to pay at closing (down payment + closing costs) and also what your monthly mortgage payment may look like.

With your mortgage preapproval complete, you are ready to really begin shopping for your home!

Step 2: Discuss Your Options with Your Realtor

After your lender sends along a preapproval letter, your realtor will have a much better idea of what type of home you can afford. The key to finding your perfect home is to be 100% honest with your realtor from the beginning. Your realtor will ask you various questions like:

– What type of home would you like? (single family, townhome, condo, twin, etc.)

– How many bedrooms do you need?

– How many bathrooms do you need?

– Do you have a preference on square footage of the home?

– Do you need a yard? If so, do you want a certain amount of acreage?

– What locations are you interested in?

– Do you want a fixer upper or move-in ready home?

And the list goes on…

It’s okay if you don’t have the answers to these questions right away. Sometimes you need to see a few options to truly understand what you like and don’t like in a home. This is why it’s important to have open communication with your realtor throughout the process so that they can continuously adjust your search to fit your needs.

Step 3: Visit Homes

By now your realtor has probably been sending you a lot of listings that fit your criteria. Once you see options that you like, your realtor will work on scheduling times to visit each property. When visiting new properties, your realtor will bring a fact sheet for each home, as well as comps for that home and neighborhood. Comparables are other homes that are currently on the market or have recently sold nearby. It is important to take a close look at these homes because they will allow you to see if the home you are considering is priced high, low, or just right for the market, which in the long run, helps you when formulating your offer.

One of the most important things to remember when visiting homes is to take notes! Whether it be on your phone or on paper, write down everything that comes to mind. What do you like? What do you dislike? What can you live with and maybe change yourself in the future? Often times, couples are so focused on searching for the 100% perfect home that they miss out on homes that may be 90% there and have great potential. You’ll learn that many homes will have some of the items on your wishlist, but not everything. It’s important to remember that you can always make adjustments to your home in the future.

After each visit, discuss your thoughts with your realtor. Maybe you realized that you don’t like a neighborhood as much as you thought you would, or that you don’t need as much space. In situations like this, I always remind my clients to go with their gut. On paper and in photos, a home may look perfect for you, but if you walk inside and don’t feel at home, don’t force it. The right home will come your way, and there is no set timeline. Every couple’s home search is different!

Step 4: Make an Offer

When you finally get that “this is the one!” feeling, your realtor will work with you to create a strong offer. If you are trying to purchase a home that is very popular, there could be multiple offers on the table. In that case, your realtor will instruct you on ways that you can make your offer more compelling. On the other hand, you may find yourself in a situation where your offer is the only one on the table, and this can give you more flexibility and power as a buyer.

Your realtor can make recommendations as to how to structure your offer in terms of price, deposits, and timeline, but ultimately it is your decision as a buyer. Once your decision is made, your realtor will prepare all of the paperwork and walk you through each step. After your offer is prepared, your realtor becomes your voice throughout the negotiation process. Let them know how you’re feeling and what you’re comfortable doing.

If your offer is accepted by the seller, your realtor will walk you through the “pre-settlement checklist” of things you need to accomplish before actually closing on the home. This time period can be anywhere from 30-60 days on average. Once all steps are complete, you will officially be a new homeowner. Then it’s time to make your house a home!

Ready to get started? I would love to help you find your dream home. In today’s real estate market, you need to work with a real estate professional who you can trust. As a proud member of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network and The Juli Lange Team, I provide the absolute finest service, dedication, and expertise possible to my clients. Whether you want to buy, sell, or rent—I will help make your home ownership dreams come true. My website offers a wealth of information on finding and buying a home, and I am always ready to answer any questions you have.

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"We could not have asked for a more fantastic realtor than Jenn. This was our first home search and Jenn made the entire process easy and painless. She helped us learn throughout the process, fully prepared us for what to expect and kept everything on track and organized.  She even made a clear document on what was expected of us and when it was due! She was always available and worked with our schedule. Always followed up with any questions we had and provided us a quick response. She was a pleasure to work with and will absolutely use her again for any future needs. Highly recommend.” – Kelsey Y.

Photos by Samantha Jay Photography