Well, right now, yes, during these last days of winter, is the best time to get rolling.
Spring is the peak home buying season, there’s tons of competition from other buyers and winter is the ideal time to get ahead of the curve.
Follow these steps now:
FIND A BUYER’S AGENT
A buyer’s agent will represent you in every aspect of the transaction, will take the time to help identify what type of home you want and will educate you on the local market so that you’ll have realistic expectations of what you’ll be able to find within a few months. Your buyer agent may also hear of properties that are going to come on the market in the spring, which could enable you to get a sneak preview.
GET YOUR FINANCING SQUARED AWAY
Your buyer’s agent may refer you to lenders. Lenders will help you get real about how much house you can afford. They will determine how much money they’re willing to lend you by checking out your financial details, from your income to your credit score and more. Or if your finances are less than perfect, you’ll be able to find out in plenty of time to make amends.
A pre-approval is usually only good for 90 days, but it’s easy to renew it if your financial picture doesn’t change. Also, if the interest rates are trending upward, which they currently are, it’s better to lock in your rate sooner rather than later.
START PREVIEWING HOMES
Your buyer’s agent will start alerting you to open houses to attend during the winter months. You won’t really know what type of home you’re looking for until you actually step inside some homes. Your criteria can change when you start to look at properties.
KNOW THE NEIGHBORHOODS
Winter is a good time to check out different neighborhoods to see whether the community is going to be a good fit.
Online research won’t show you what the noise level is during rush hour or what the neighbors are like (is it more for young families or older residents?). Concerned about traffic? Go and test drive your commute.
DON’T RULE OUT BUYING EARLY – BEFORE SPRING
If you’re willing and able to move earlier, then keep a open mind with respect to buying a home during the winter. There’s less competition!