Buying your dream home is a true achievement. Apart from being such an important milestone in your life, it is also a symbol of status and prosperity. However, it’s not just a material and societal symbol, buying your own home means that you had to overcome several hurdles too! Let’s face it, buying a home, especially one that’s perfectly suited to your requirements, can be quite challenging. And we’re not even talking about all the paperwork and processes. One of the biggest challenges is finding a house that could potentially become your dream home. Luckily, it’s not a challenge you have to undertake alone. A realtor is someone who could really help you take a load off when it comes to finding the ideal piece of real estate.
If you’ve been smart about finding your dream home and hired a realtor, then you’ve just made your house-hunting a breeze. However, hiring a realtor is not enough. You also need to do the right things and have the answers your realtor needs, to make finding your dream home even easier for everyone involved. So, what should you be doing? What answers should you have? We’ve gone straight to the source - Scott Dolan, an award-winning realtor from Coldwell Banker Signature serving Saskatoon and the surrounding areas. Read on to explore everything your realtor wants you to know.
You should be pre-approved for a mortgage
This is easily the most critical factor that determines whether a realtor is even willing to take you on as a client. Why is mortgage pre-approval important? When you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, it makes it easier to shortlist suitable properties for you. It gives you more bargaining power on your side. Mortgage pre-approval means that a bank or other financial lending institution has promised to lend you money to buy property of your own. This means you have the means to buy the house, condo, or any other real estate that you are interested in purchasing. So, when you approach a seller and they know you have a pre-approved mortgage, it indicates to them that you are a serious buyer. Their aim is to sell the property. If your offer is good enough, even if does not meet their asking price, it is more likely that they will agree to the deal. As you can see, when you have a mortgage pre-approval, it makes it easy for your realtor to negotiate on your behalf. They may be able to get you a great deal all thanks to your pre-approved mortgage. Another reason realtors prefer their clients to have a pre-approved mortgage is because it signals a level of trust and financial stability. If a lender has carefully checked all your records and gives you a pre-approved mortgage, then surely you must be someone who can be counted upon to complete a deal successfully. Have a pre-approved mortgage makes you appear more trustworthy.
So, how do you get a pre-approved mortgage?
- Approach your own bank or credit union: When you already have an account with a bank or credit union, they are more likely to give you a pre-approved mortgage. As a customer (or member, as in the case of credit unions), you’ve already established a level of trust with them. Plus, they have all your accounts and credit history so the whole process of mortgage pre-approval becomes more streamlined. They may also offer special incentives for existing members or customers. So, first step? Check with your own bank or credit union. However, don’t just accept the deal they give you because you also need to...
- Approach different banks and credit unions: While getting a mortgage pre-approval from your own bank or credit union may be easier, it may not always be better. Many banks and credit unions offer competitive mortgage rates. They may even have some amazing welcome offers and discounts to attract new customers or members. You can use these to your advantage to get a good deal on your pre-approved mortgage. Make sure you speak to a mortgage specialist or a customer representative who will be able to guide you to the right offers or even help you get a custom deal on your mortgage pre-approval.
Of course, banks and credit unions will be eager to give you a pre-approved mortgage if you have a good credit rating or credit score. But, what about when your credit rating isn’t that great? That’s where the next tip comes in…
- Approach a mortgage specialist & realtor: Sure, your realtor would want you to have pre-approved mortgage. However, if you can’t get a pre-approved mortgage on your own, you should turn to a mortgage specialist or realtor. They will be able to gauge your financial situation and set up some opportunities to get a mortgage pre-approval. They may also be connected to a wide network of mortgage lenders, so they may be able to get you a better pre-approved mortgage than if you had tried to get one on your own. Plus, once you have a pre-approved mortgage, the same mortgage specialist and realtor can help you find your dream home too!
You should figure out what you’re looking for in a house
When you think of your dream home, does it have a big yard? Is it a house that looks out over a city skyline? Or perhaps, it has large bedrooms for your whole family and guests to boot? Maybe it’s compact and cozy and has gorgeous light in the afternoons. Think of all these things and then pare them down with cold practicality. Notice we said home, and not a house because ultimately, it is you that will create a home. It’s wonderful to want certain things, but what you need to let your realtor know is what are the things you absolutely need in your new house. Is it lots of space, utilities, or maybe even a finished yard, after all? Let your realtor know exactly what you’re looking for so they can find you the perfect fit.
You should shortlist a few key areas for your future home
Beyond the actual house, the location and surrounding area that you want to live in is an important piece of information you need to share with your realtor. The ‘right’ area for you is highly dependent on your personal preference, family, phase of life, and even what you do for work, where you work, and your other interests and hobbies. A dream home is one that provides you with the perfect base to live your dream life. What your dream life consists of is different for everybody, but it is something that you can consciously create by determining what is important to you. Here are some factors that you should consider while shortlisting a couple of areas for your realtor:
- Your personal preferences: Do you want to live close to the city centre, or be removed from the hubbub or urbanity? Would you like to live close to your workplace or closer to some good schools? Is living near access to nightlife or nature more important for you — or perhaps, you want to live somewhere that gives you the option to socialize and be close to nature at the same time. Think about your daily life and what brings you joy and filter down different areas accordingly. It would also help to prioritize your preferences so you can shortlist areas more efficiently. For example, if you find that being close to your workplace is more important than being close to nature or cultural spaces, then you will be able to choose between areas that offer either, but not both, if it really comes down to the wire.
- Your future or current stage in life: Yes, the future is unpredictable, and the present can be uncertain too. But you do need to take your plans and current life phase into consideration while choosing areas too. Let’s say you’re about to start a family, then you’d probably want to find shortlist areas where lots of families live, and good schools are nearby. Or, if you know you’ll probably switch jobs and your workplace is not going to be the same for long, you won’t consider areas that are close by just to cut down on commute time. Perhaps you work from home and need to live in an area close to cafes or with easy access to restaurants. Or you’re an artist and want to live in an artistic community, which will also influence the areas you can shortlist.
Remember, you don’t have to hand in reams and reams of information to your realtor. It’s just a few — but crucial — details. With a pre-approved mortgage and a keen sense of exactly what you need, want, and are looking for, your realtor will be able to properly search and zone in on your perfect home!