There’s some good news in the real estate market.  While there are many homes on the market, homes are selling relatively quickly – some have even had offers the day after they go up for sale.  The smart home buyer will gather his weapons together before setting out for the hunt. Here are 8 tips to help you snare your dream home before someone else does: 

1. Before looking, get Pre-Qualified for a mortgage loan 

  • Check your credit as well as your credit score well in advance so you have time to repair anything that needs fixing. Your credit will determine your interest rate and loan terms. 
  • Research what mortgage products are available and see works best for you. You can choose among fixed rate mortgages, adjustable rate mortgages as well as the length of the loan. 
  • Pre-Qualify before you start looking. This is the key! It takes as little as 15 minutes by an on-line application or through a telephone interview with a mortgage loan specialist. Being Pre-Qualified helps you narrow down a price range for your search as well as identify areas that may delay underwriting. It also shows you’re a serious buyer, and when you’re ready to make an offer, you have a competitive advantage over other potential offers. 

2. Work with an experienced Realtor  

  • Realtors typically have access to more “networks” which increases the opportunity to find an ideal property quickly. 
  • Realtors have established relationships with reliable vendors who will also protect the interests of home purchasers - home inspectors, contractors, etc. – which can streamline the process from the time you make an offer through the time you’re handed the keys.

3. Shop around quickly for home owners’ insurance and provide those costs to your lender early on. The mortgage lender has to follow strict federal guidelines by disclosing all closing costs, and home owners insurance is part of the package. And here’s a tip:  You don’t have to wait for your policy’s renewal date to change insurance carriers. You can choose a better deal at any time, even after the closing has occurred. 

4. Select an experienced closing attorney either while you’re house hunting or as soon as your offer is made. 

  • An experienced attorney knows how to address contract, title and survey issues efficiently and effectively without slowing the closing process while protecting your interests. 
  • The settlement or closing conference may take as long as an hour, so consider selecting a closing attorney with scheduling flexibility. 
  • Attorney fees are part of the closing costs that need to be included in your mortgage application, so it’s important to know the fees early.  

5. Respond quickly to the mortgage lender to secure all additional underwriting requirements.  Most communication for mortgage approval is done secured email.  Be prepared to receive and print emails and return executed documents by email or fax. You’ll sign the same document multiple times in the closing process as some documents are date sensitive and are not valid after a certain period.   

6. Have realistic expectations on matters noted on any home inspection report. Because homes are selling fast, sellers are less inclined to make all requested repairs.  If there are items that need to be repaired, focus on the most important items and allow the experienced Realtor to negotiate from that point.

7. Know well in advance of closing how you will fund your portion of the transaction. Most closing attorneys require funds to be wired to that law firm’s trust account.  Check with your bank to confirm wiring procedures and to ensure there are no restrictions on the wiring of funds.

8. Be prepared for some adjustments on the day of closing 

  • Minor deviations in the amount due at closing is commonplace. Make sure your closing attorneys will accept a personal check to cover the amount due on closing day.  
  • Remember – under the terms of the typical North Carolina contract, closing does not occur until the Deed has been recorded. Discuss with your Realtor ahead of time about the expectations for delivery of the keys to your new home.
  • While the day of closing is the culmination of a great effort, minor issues could potentially arise which may delay closing. It’s an exciting day, but don’t add to your stress – plan for furniture delivery, utility installation, contractors, etc., a few days after closing.  

Published on September 21, 2016