If one of your goals for this year is to upgrade to a larger home, or purchase an investment property, chances are good that you’ve already started on the fun part: looking at property listings. Swiping through available SML homes and looking at photos and virtual tours is exciting. Besides, who doesn’t like to daydream about waking up to a gorgeous view of Smith Mountain Lake, or sitting by a bonfire on a private beach?
The good news is that making a list of your favorite properties is wonderful, and necessary, step in helping your find your next property. But there’s also a list of other, less exciting steps that are just as important.
- Know Your Credit Score: Unless you’re paying for your home out-of-pocket, you are more than likely going to have to apply for a mortgage. Higher credit scores result in better mortgage rates. If your credit score is low, then check your reports for errors and start the process of repairing.
- No New Credit Cards: Now that the holidays are behind us, there’s less temptation to open a line of store credit to save that 20% on your qualifying purchase. Each new credit card is a new line of credit. Banks look at your debt-to-credit ratio to essentially see how much you owe and how responsible you are in making your payments. It’s best to pay down your current credit cards (or pay them off completely) and resist the urge to open additional lines of credit.
- Start Looking at Realtors: I’ve written about how important it is to choose the right realtor, and if you’re looking for a new home then now is the time to start the process. Do not let one Google search determine your real estate agent. Do your homework and find an agent who has experience working with listings similar to what you want.
- Know How Much House You Can Afford: By getting pre-approved through a mortgage lender, you’ll know exactly how much home you can buy. This will help you and your realtor determine which properties best suit your budget. If you’re purchasing a second home, then have an honest conversation with yourself and your family regarding how much time you’re going to be visiting. Remember, your vacation home still needs to be maintained even if you’re not there.
If you’re ready to start your Smith Mountain Lake home search, then contact me today. I would love the opportunity to learn more about your desired SML lifestyle and work with you to find the ideal property.