Home buyer's question

melody-sDecember 11, 2011

Hi everyone,

I am that elusive creature - the home buyer. LOL

My current lease expires at the end of July and I am getting my ducks in a row to be ready to purchase this spring. Given that I want to close no earlier than mid-June when is it reasonable to get a real estate agent and start looking for homes?

If it helps to know I am in the pacific northwest and the local market is slow, but not terrible.


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You can start by going to open houses and seeing what is available. You will also meet the realtors and, if they are not busy, be able to chat with them and maybe find one you like and are comfortable with.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 12:19PM
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Start developing your list of features that you want in your home now. Start the loan application process NOW! Start interviewing for agents now. If you find a home you really like, you will probably want to take possession at least a couple of months before your lease expires in order to do the minor changes like painting or changing out lights that will put more of your stamp on the space. It's better to have too much time than not enough!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 3:01PM
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The first thing you need to find out is how long it takes to close on a home in your area. My area takes about the longest of anywhere in the country at about 2.5 to 3 months. Even with that length of time to close, it is too early to start looking now. It usually doesnt take serious buyers 3 months to find a home. I also dont agree with live wire. It is too early to start your loan application, it is only valid for 6 months and it will be expired by the time you want to close. Also, it sounds like you are a first time home buyer, typically, they can't keep their rental and close on the house for a few months of leisurely painting and cosmetics. Most first time home buyers can't afford to pay rent and a mortgage.

I do agree that it is a good idea to start going to some open houses to get a feel for what your money will buy. (Get pre approved to find out what you qualify for, but you do not need to start the application process)and also meet some realtors to see if you click with any of them. They will probably set you up on an automated email program that will email homes that fit your criteria for a start.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 7:20PM
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Thanks for the advice. Legally I am a first time home buyer, but I have I actually purchased two homes in the past with my late husband. Although the market and state of residence was different. I escaped California as things were tanking. I lost my equity, but fortunately did not go under water.

This is my first purchase totally on my own. I know what I want and what I can afford. I did my research and luckily they are one and the same around here :)

Based on the advice I am reaching out to interview a few realtors and mortgage brokers, but I am not racing out to buy anything right now.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 9:55PM
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I think right now is a great time to interview agents. It's also a great time to check out potential neighborhoods. You potentially get to see neighborhoods and areas of town at their worst. You can see how those areas are affected by bad weather. As far as when to look at houses for purchase, I think we had around a 2 month to close for the house we bought here. That time may differ in your area.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 10:00PM
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I would start driving around neighborhoods and browsing realtor.com now so you get a feel for what's out there and what you like. You could go to open houses as well to see homes and meet realtors. Then you'll be able to do some targeted shopping once you get closer to your lease end.

I'd probably start house hunting in earnest in early March. That will time well with when a seasonal lump of homes will likely get put on the market.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 1:37PM
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Are you in the rainy PNW? We are just outside of Seattle (in an Eastern Suburb), and bought in December. It was a *great* time to buy. It is easier to find water issues, the moss/grass isn't all green so you can see what the yard looks like most of the year, you can see the gutters in action, etc.

We also found, it was better to pay our rent for the remainder of our lease term (as well as our mortgage), than to break our lease early. And, we liked that we weren't rushed into our move, nor kicked out of our apt earlier than we could move into our house.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 11:50PM
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Yes, I am in the PNW and I agree that I want to see homes in the rainy season. (Which seems to go on forever around here :) It is a bit too early to buy since paying both rent and mortgage for more than a month or two would be financially uncomfortable.

I got referrals and found a good real estate agent after interviewing three of them. She gave me some lender referrals that I will talk to in the upcoming weeks. Going to start looking at short sales in late February, which is the right timeline based on local conditions. Later, if the short sale thing doesn't work out, I can start looking at other homes.

For now I am going to explore different areas around town. Thanks everyone for the advice.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 12:33PM
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Even in this market, it took us almost a year to finally bought ours a year ago. We have picked our zipcode before the search started and went through a lot of failed offers. Because now a days most of the homes with good price are either short sale or REO, it is more difficult to buy. We made an offer on a short sale and waited waited and by the time we got a response two months later, we have to revisit the home again to look at the details agian, as we totally forgotten the house and the offer. We ended up not buying the house because the counter offer from the bank is way over of our bid.
On the REO side, the prices are intentionally low, so it would have sold quickly. The problem on this is that you are bidding against a lot of ppl, some times 35 bids at a time and unless you really know the area and the price, most likey you will be outbid by others, time will be wasted there. The house we bought had 15 bidders, just for an example. In addition, even if you are successful in the bidding war, the bank requires your qualified source of funding. If you tell the bank it is a cash bid, they want you to close in 7~10 days.

So, it is really the right time for you to explore home hunting right NOW. Without a feeling of the market, you will be still renting by July.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2011 at 11:24AM
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