July 6, 2017 | Mark Simone
I meet with many Buyers who are at various stages of the home-buying process  and at various stages of their lives.  In fact, this year I've had the privilege of consulting with over 75 groups of Buyers year-to-date and I've represented over 400 Buyers in their purchases in my 14+ year  career.  All Buyers, whether first timers, second timers and even third timers, usually get started in a similar manner these days; they go online and start looking at homes for sale on different websites.  When a Buyer finds something that's appealing, they want to  go out and see it.  It's a very natural inclination.  This is where my job as a consultant often begins.

While I fully admit that looking at homes and shopping for a home is the most fun part of the home-buying process, it's not the first step in the process.  There are several simple and strategic reasons why skipping the first couple steps in the process can lead to a much more frustrating, drawn out, and ultimately a more stressful experience.   Everyone wants to avoid that!  So what are the first couple steps you might be asking yourself...

The first step I'll keep simple so as to avoid sounding like a commercial for myself.  Schedule a  consultation with a local, expert Realtor. Simple, right? The second step is to get pre-qualified with a recommended lender or broker. I know it doesn't sound exciting and it's definitely not as visually stimulating as checking out new potential homes.  At the end of the day, when you make an offer on a house, your offer must be  accompanied by a pre-qualification letter to be considered serious.

Here's why this is important:
 
  1. It doesn't matter how much of a Buyers' or Sellers' market it is.   Houses can go under contract in the blink of an eye.  There's nothing  more disappointing than seeing a house, falling in love and then taking a  day or two to get pre-qualified only to find out that during that time, another offer was accepted by the Sellers.   Nothing more disappointing, right? Not so fast...
  2. The ultimate disappointment is checking out a bunch of houses, falling in love with one, you start envisioning your life in the house, start thinking about what kind of an offer you want to make and then find out you can't afford it. Tragic...seriously!  Not only are you obviously disappointed that your dreams were just dreams and not a reality, but now you inevitably will comparing the next round of homes (that you can comfortably afford) to homes that you  can't.  Nothing like feeling like you're "settling" on a home when you're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, right?   Not convinced yet?
  3. Getting pre-qualified provides clarity and is empowering!  The confidence you get from walking up to a house and before you even open the door you KNOW that if you love what's behind  that door, you know not only that you can afford it, but also exactly  how financially everything works.  What your downpayment looks like, what  your closing costs are, how your payment breakdown is derived. Clarity at last!
By following the first two steps in order, you ensure that when you take steps forward through the home-buying process, you won't need to take two steps back when you find your dream home!
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