3... 2... 1... Happy New Year! Congratulations everyone, if you're reading this we've all made it through 2023 and into 2024. A time to renew those gym memberships, formulate healthy meal plans and of course, aspire to become a homeowner! Over the holiday season many friends and family expressed their desire to exit the vicious cycle of renting and become first time homeowners. (And yes these were all organic conversations and not paid professional actors). As a result of these conversations, I have put together 5 tips and recommendations for first time homebuyers. Although Ehlinger Team is based in the state of Georgia, all these tips apply nationwide for anyone looking to begin their real estate journey this 2024.
Finances: Once you have penciled in 'become a homeowner' on your 2024 planner, first things first is finances. Unless you are paying cash, a first time buyer you will have to qualify for a mortgage. Basic qualifications are proof of employment, credit check, and debt to income ratio. Before qualifying for a loan make sure to clean up any outstanding debts or high payments on credit cards. If you are a salaried employee make sure to provide W-2's and pay stubs. If you are self employed, a business owner, or work in the service industry (serving, bartending) be prepared to provide a more detailed list of income over a longer period of time (typically a 2 year period).
Picking a Lender: Choosing where to secure your mortgage is just as important as the house you are planning to buy. Most mortgages are processed by large banking institutions and private lenders. In most instances private lenders are highly recommended when getting a mortgage. With large banks, mortgages are not their primary business. This can cause delays in processing and a lack of urgency between the bank and the homebuyer. With private lenders mortgages are their main and usually only business. This makes them extremely knowledgeable in their field and also much better communicators as they are operating a small business. No 800 numbers or 45 minute hold times. If you would like a reliable and honest lender to work with please let me know and I will provide you a list of our team's preferred lenders.
A Reliable Buyers Agent: Just as it goes with picking a knowledgable and reliable lender, the quality of your real estate agent can make or break a deal. Buying a home is not a quick transaction like a grocery store. It is a process that takes an average of 21-45 days for a first time homebuyer. During this time there are multiple deadlines that must be met, otherwise the results could negatively affect the buyer. When interviewing and choosing an agent be sure to elect someone who will stay in constant communication before, during, and even after the home buying process.
Be Open Minded: When searching for your first home you may have specific neighborhoods that you want to stick to. If you're having trouble finding a home in the desired area, whether it be related to price or inventory, do not be afraid to look in other areas. There may be some hidden gems or more affordable homes that could lead to higher appreciation over time. Your real estate agent should be knowledgeable enough to guide you through different areas depending on your criteria.
You Cannot Time the Market: As cliche as it sounds there is no right or wrong time to buy. If you are financially prepared and ready to take the next steps to your financial future, then go ahead and begin your home search. If you are not ready, do not let any agent or outside influence pressure you into the journey of homeownership. A great agent and lender will help guide you and help you take the correct actions to set you up for when you are ready buy.
If these 5 tips and recommendations have got your future homeowner gears turning, reach out to us to get your journey started! Ehlinger Team has you covered this 2024!