There’s a great Holiday song, originally made famous by Eartha Kitt, called Santa Baby. Some of the lyrics go like this:
“Santa honey, one little thing that I really do need…
The deed… “
Wouldn’t that be great if you could ask Santa for a new house and get it?
For most of us, it isn’t that easy.
Buying Your Home in 2017
If you’re thinking 2017 might be the year you buy your first house or your next house, you should start thinking about getting your ducks in a row. Buying a home is not as easy as it used to be and, if you need a mortgage (most people do), you really should get started.
I like to remind my clients that buying a home is not like taking a pair of jeans through the checkout line at Target. There’s a little more to it.
Here are a few pointers:
Know what you want.
This is critical. There are a lot of different kinds of houses in a lot of different places. If you tell you’re Realtor “somewhere in Fairfax County” that’s not being very helpful, so be specific like “a house in Vienna“. You also need to make a list of your “must have” items. Do you need a certain number of bedrooms to accommodate your family? Do you like the low maintenance lifestyle of a townhouse or condo? How important is it to be near transportation?
Just get a good fix on what you like. This is why the Internet is useful.
Get a good Realtor.
The Internet is fine and dandy for looking at houses and getting a general idea of home prices and a glimpse inside some homes. It doesn’t take the place of actually seeing the home live and in person along with the rest of the neighborhood. A lot of the sites on the Web are inaccurate, too. A good Realtor can let you know exactly what’s on the market, what’s under contract and what’s already been sold.
There are tons of other things we’re good for, too, but more on that later.
Get a good Mortgage Professional.
This is something your Realtor can help with. We know who can “get ‘er done” and who is blowing smoke and wasting money buying us coffee. A good lender is worth their weight in gold. They’ll have a variety of programs designed to meet specific needs and they will tell you exactly how much money you can borrow. The financial part of the process is critical and if you mess up along the way it could mean the difference between house and no house.
(Hint: don’t buy a car, don’t buy a donut using your credit card, and don’t buy furniture.)
Get a good Home Inspector.
The last thing you want to find out after you’ve moved in is that the chimney to your fireplace that you love is going to blow smoke into your living room. Or that you have a multitude of plumbing issues. Your Realtor can suggest a couple of home inspectors that are thorough and helpful to you, as a home buyer, to explain what needs immediate attention and what you may want to be aware of in the course of normal home maintenance.
Get a good Title Company.
This is also something your Realtor can help with. The last thing you want to find out three days before your settlement is that there seems to be some issue with the title to the house you want to buy. Sometimes title problems are easy to fix like an unreleased mortgage from a decade ago. Other problems are not so easy and it’s important to know you’ll have a clear title early in the process.
Essentially, a professional Title Company that will complete this workflow process, communicate with all parties and ensure your settlement happens on time.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that Santa is not going to leave a deed under the tree no matter how nice you’ve been all year.
Buying a home can be stressful and complex. If you get your ducks in a row early and start working with an experienced Realtor, it’ll be a lot less stressful. Next Christmas Santa will be putting the presents under your tree in your very own house.