I originally found this list of advice at Realtor.com and it was directed at first-time home buyers. But I think it good advice for every buyer, first time, second, seasoned investor, this advice is great for any and all buyers.
Always always always get a house inspection. Always.
Even if the house looks perfect. It can be brand new and still have flaws. In fact, the longest repair addendum I had ever written was for a brand new home in Tigard. It was a gorgeous house, but this builder was building out an entire street. He had his crews on a production schedule that they had to be finished with a house by a specified date in order to progress to the next lot. There was just so much unfinished stuff. Insulation was missing in part the attic. Roof vents were missing screens. Caulking was missing at the back of the kitchen sink. Catching these items while the crews were still in the neighborhood made it easy to bring the workers back in and to get every last item finished correctly.
Don’t forget to also get inspections for radon, the sewer line, asbestos, in-ground tanks, or any other issue that comes along and reflects the age of the house.
Step away from the computer and get pre-approved.
With the Internet giving us easy access to information, it is super easy to do lots of house shopping on your own. It’s also easy to play with mortgage calculators and come up with what you think you can afford. But there comes a time when you need to start working with professionals. In particular, get pre-approved for any financing that you may need. Work with a real person who is local. The on-line lenders, who shall remain nameless in this post, do not have a good reputation for service. In a multiple offer situation, a buyer using a National, on-line lender may be at a disadvantage to a buyer using a local mortgage company with someone who is the point person through the process. Then find yourself a great Realtor. Experienced professionals will be able to guide you to make the process as painless and successful as possible. I also recommend starting with finding a Realtor and then they can give you contact information for great lenders that they know from experience will take good care of you. Both Linda and I have lenders we love to recommend.
Never miss a deadline.
Your Realtor will be keeping track of the deadlines that you need to meet as far as depositing earnest money and completing inspections. You need to be responsible for meeting deadlines with your lender. When they ask you for paperwork, provide it quickly. If you fail to meet the deadlines that your lender sets, you are compromising the chances of closing on time. You have an obligation to cooperate and be as timely as possible.
Choose a lender you like.
I recommend interviewing at least three. This doesn’t mean making applications with all three. It means having a conversation with them. You are going to be sharing very personal information with them about your finances. Your need to have a rapport with them. Find someone who makes it easy and who works for you. Do they return phone calls quickly? Do they answer your questions in a way that you understand?
Summon reserves of patience.
Finding the right house may take time. You may find that you are in situations with multiple offers and your offer may not be chosen. You may get an offer accepted and then have a bad inspection that forces you to end the deal. You may find that at the time of closing a situation comes up that creates a delay. Any number of issues can happen. Go into the home buying experience and pre-set your thinking with the idea that you will exercise patience and allow the process to happen. It will lower the stress and make the entire journey better.
I hope you have found this advice useful. As always, Linda and I are here to help.