Looking for a house can be…intimidating! There are so many steps in the process it can be hard to know where to begin.
And with Texas’ white hot housing market the stakes feel even higher.
Stop. Take a deep breath. Count to three. Sure, finding a home right now can be stressful. Just keep in mind you only have to take it one step at a time.
When you’re centered and ready to start house searching, these are your next moves.
Know How Much House You Can Afford
The house you want and the house you can afford may be different, and that’s ok! Once you’re in a home, your house is appreciating in value alongside everyone else’s. Meaning, there’s nothing that says your first home has to be your forever home.
The easiest way to see what your budget can bear is to get pre-approved through a mortgage company. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your realtor, see if your selected new home community has a preferred lender they work with, or just pop into your local bank branch. You can always change your mind and switch lenders later on, if needed.
A loan officer can help you get a sense of how much you qualify for and what your payments will be. From there you can decide if you need to save a bit more towards your down payment, work on your credit to get a better interest rate, or if you’re ready to hit the ground running.
Have An Honest Conversation With Your Family
It’s a good idea to make sure you and your loved ones are all on the same page. If you’re buying the home with another person, create a safe space to have open conversations about what your potential future will look like.
Are they comfortable with the projected monthly payment? Will you both be contributing to the down payment? Do both of you plan to be on the deed (if you’re not married)?
If you have kids, explain to them (in age-appropriate terms) about the changes that may be coming and give them an opportunity to share their feelings. If you listen to and validate their concerns, they are more likely to understand the purpose of the move and look forward to the good things that are in store. This is especially true if your move is to a new home community with wonderful amenities and a lifestyle program with planned events and activities for all ages!
Make Your Needs/Wants List
No matter how long you’ve been pursuing the dream of home ownership, you probably already have a mental checklist of must-have home features--those items you can’t live without-- and other things you’re willing to compromise on.
For instance, if you have children, a great school district with highly rated schools may be non-negotiable. Or, if you have aging parents, you may need a floor plan with no stairs.
Remember that cosmetic changes can be made along the way, so don’t get too hung up on having the perfect soaker tub or flooring if the home is what you need from a structural standpoint.
Make sure to give this list to your real estate agent to help focus your search.
Location, Location, Location
You can make certain changes to your house over time. But you can’t change where it is.
Maybe you want to be reasonably close to big city action, but are even more concerned with finding a home in a smaller, well-designed community where your homebuying budget will go farther. In that case, search for a new home community with great on-site amenities in an up and coming area.
Keep Your Search Open and Organized
After a while, many of the homes you look at might all start to look the same. Keeping a spreadsheet of the houses you really like will help you when it comes time to make your final decision.
And even though your realtor will definitely provide lists and valuable advice, it’s never a bad idea to keep doing your own research, as well.
If you know there’s an area or new home community you like, spend some time searching on their site. Many webites show home listings that are updated in real time, so you can get an idea of availability before you step onsite.
Stay Alert Until You Close
Once you’ve found the one, follow the instructions of your lender carefully. When they say don’t make any sudden job changes or take out any new lines of credit, they mean it.
You don’t want to give the lender any reason to question your ability to make your monthly payments and deny your loan.
How to Start Looking for a House FAQs:
How many times should you see a house before you buy?
You may only be able to see the house or model home one time before you put in your offer, but make sure to revisit the property at least once more during your option period.
How long does it take the average person to find a new home?
Each person’s experience is unique, but most experts recommend starting to look for a new home at least a few months before you have to move.
What is the best way to search for a house?
Working with a realtor and doing an independent search on builders’ websites should help you cover your bases.
Searching for a Home? Try Hillwood Communities!
If you’re looking for a great home in a great location, the award-winning developer Hillwood Communities builds new home communities in DFW, Austin and Houston. We partner with the best new homebuilders to offer new construction homes in communities that offer the charm of small town living while still being convenient to nearby cities. For more information, contact us or find the community that’s perfect for you!