Buying a new home is not an impulse purchase. You can’t just walk in and declare, “I’ll take it!”

Long before you make an offer on your Crystal Coast dream home—and even before going to your first open house—there are a lot of things to do to prepare.

Overwhelmed? Here’s a checklist of everything you need to do to get ready to buy a new home. If you still have questions, we are here at Al Williams Properties to help guide you from beginning to end. We have a highly professional, experienced team that knows all about real estate along the Crystal Coast.

  1. Check your credit score

Before you even begin looking at real estate, you need to check your credit score. This is the number lenders will look at to determine whether you are creditworthy and will dictate the interest rate you will be charged.

The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate—and that’s what you’re going for.

  1. Figure out how much you can afford

You’ll need a thorough understanding of your income and expenses to begin the home-buying process. You should get a preapproval letter for a loan, which provides an estimate on how much you can spend. you’ll need to gather your financial information, including:

  • Monthly income
  • Total monthly debt payments (auto loans, student loans, and credit card minimum payments)
  •  Credit score and any credit issues in the past few years 
  •  How much cash you can put toward a down payment
  1. Save for a down payment

To get the best rates on real estate, try to set aside 20 percent for a down payment. Although 20 percent is generally a recommended down payment, that can be difficult for first-time homebuyers. Look at your monthly spending and cut back on any unnecessary expenses.

  1. Shop for a mortgage lender

Mortgage lenders offer a variety of rates and programs, so shop around to find the best rate and mortgage option for you.

Do this early in the process to see if you qualify for a mortgage and confirm how much of a mortgage you can afford. That helps you, and your real estate agent, narrow down listings to those you can reasonably afford.

  1. Get pre-approval

Once you’ve found the mortgage that’s right for you, you’ll want to show the sellers that you have what it takes to buy their home. Loan pre-approval tells the seller your offer is serious and able to make the purchase.

  1. Change is NOT good!

Once you’re preparing to buy a home, it’s wise to not make any major changes in your life or, most important, your finances. No job changes, no new cars, no new credit cards or store credit, and the like.

You don’t want to mess things up with your credit score or your lender. If you do make a wrong step, you may not be able to qualify for the home loan.

  1. Find the right real estate agent

There’s no reason to go it alone. Having a real estate agent helping you can make the whole process much easier.

When there is a limited number of homes on the market, a buyer needs a great agent to make sure they find their dream home. Check out these reviews of our team members!

At Al Williams, we know the area and have worked with home buyers like you for more than 30 years. Experience does matter!

  1. Make a list

It’s okay to make a wish list, but you need to be realistic about what elements are non-negotiable, such as the number of bedrooms, a fenced yard for a pet, or a specific school district.

Divide your list into three categories: must-haves, nice-to-have, and dream features. Be realistic and understand that you may not get everything on your checklist—but you might get close!

  1. Browse listings online

If we do say so ourselves, the search feature on our website is a great place to start to figure out what properties are available in our area in your price range.

You can narrow down options by price, number of bedrooms, location, and other variables, to fine-tune your search.

  1. Visit open houses

Looking at online listings is a good way to start your house hunt, but seeing the properties in person is quite another. Take advantage of open houses, as a low-stress way to visit several homes in one day.

While you’re in each home, take photos and notes so they don’t all run together in your mind. (Now, which one had the bonus room?)

  1. Check the lay of the land

You’re not just buying the property you’re looking at; you’re also buying into a whole neighborhood or community or town.

That’s why you have to be certain that it has the vibe you want. It’s a good idea to talk to neighbors and visit the area at various times of the day and night to see what it’s really like.

Ready to get started? Our agents at Al Williams Properties are professional, experienced, and knowledgeable. We can give you the resources you need to buy on the Crystal Coast.

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