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.
Buying a home is one of the largest investments you’ll make in your life, and partnering with the right realtor will help make the process much smoother. An experienced realtor will help you find the right property and guide you through all of the necessary steps, from the initial walk-through all the way to closing.
But how do you choose the right realtor? If you’re new to area, or searching out-of-market, then you might not know which realtors specialize in the particular type of property that you’re interested in seeing.
For example, if you have your heart set on a waterfront condo in a maintenance-free residential development, then choosing a realtor who works primarily with first-time home buyers searching for properties within suburban neighborhoods may not be a good match.
Make a list of the amenities and lifestyle experiences that you would like to have associated with your next purchase. For example, do you want to be near a golf course, or in a more seclude area? Do you want waterfront, water access, or off the water completely?
As a resident realtor, I can connect you with the property that speaks to your lifestyle needs. I can also help you discover options that you may not have considered. I’m a member of this community in every sense: as a resident, as a wife and mother, and as a real estate professional.
It’s hard to remember what life was like before the internet. To think that there was a time when you had to lose yourself in an accordion map just to make it to the beach seems comical, simply because all of the information we could ever need is readily available at our fingertips. Now we tell our phone where we want to go, and it will happily guide us from our driveway to our destination while offering restaurant suggestions along the way.
Vetting purchases online isn’t relegated to clothing and technology. Consumers are turning to real estate sites like Zillow to help them find their next home, and relying on virtual tours and slideshows to help familiarize themselves with the property. But can you get a good grasp of a listing from a website alone?
Why It Pays to See Listings in Person
Professional photographers make good money for a reason: understanding how to use lighting, composition, and angles to enhance an image is an art form. Seeing is believing, and a wide-angle lens can make a broom closet look amazing. Plus, photos and virtual tours only offer a visual reference. Rarely will you find photos of the neighbor’s adjoining property, or their extensive collection of inflatable holiday decor.
Working with an experienced local realtor will allow you to get see the whole picture, not just the positives. Your realtor protects your best interests, and offers an unbiased perspective on the property. For example, if you’ve mentioned that maintenance-free living is a top priority, your realtor will show you listings located within an inclusive community. If you have your heart set on a waterfront property, your realtor will exclude farmland and suburban neighborhoods.
There’s no harm in perusing the internet for real estate listings, but when you’re serious about buying a home, there’s no substitute for an experienced local realtor.