If you're wishing Santa puts a new abode under the tree in Wichita Falls, now is a good time to get ready for what happens next--once he is up the chimney you are on your own for mortgages and moving. Even if you have owned a house previously, it is not a bad idea to brush up on your home buying and moving skills so when the time comes, you maneuver it like a professional.
Financial Check-Up in Wichita Falls
First, get your finances in order. Unless you're paying cash for a residence, you'll need to obtain a mortgage. While mortgage lending rules have slackened a little recently, you'll still want to have all your ecomonic matters organized and tidy before you talk with a loan officer (even a virtual one). Get a copy of your credit report to make certain you haven't been a victim of identity theft, and double check that all your bills have been paid by their due date. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact the credit reporting agency to report erroneous information.
It is definitely a grand idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. In some regions of the country the real estate market never slows down, and you should be ready to submit an offer on a residence when you discover it. Anymore, most sellers will not even acknowledge an offer without a pre-approval from a lender. Do not muddle up a pre-approval and a pre-qualification; the pre-approval shows that your credit and income are already okay--sometimes already underwritten--with the lender, you just need to find a house. A pre-qualification reflects that they perused your credit report and if all other factors line up then they will consider a loan.
You want it all in a new residence—great schools, outdoor kitchen, open floor plan, mature landscaping, privacy, fabulous neighbors, and low real estate taxes. Most likely you're going to have to make one or two concessions somewhere, so go ahead and make your wants list and your needs list, and see where the two intersect. Regardless of your budget you are not going to get all of the things that you want, so pay closest attention to on your needs. If you need to be in a specific school district, or you need to be within a radius of the airport, or you have five kids and need five bedrooms, those non-negotiables must be at the top of your list. House-hunting is the ultimate Goldilocks experience, so don't even bother with homes that are too big or small, too far off the beaten track, or too expensive.
It should go without saying, but needs to be said anyway, that your family must agree with the needs and the wants. If you want a large yard and your spouse would be happy with a high-rise, work out those specifics before your realtor turns into a mediator.
A Great Real Estate Agent in Wichita Falls
A good real estate agent is not the one who is a "million-dollar producer" (this might mean she sold ten houses in ten years) or whose ads are all over billboards. A great realtor is the one that you feel like you can develop a good working relationship with--after all, you're going to be spending a lot of time together, and she will be helping you through a large financial transaction. Find someone who's easy to talk to, that you can trust, and who really listens to what you are saying--if your limit is $350,000, she should respect that.
Your task when you're interviewing realtors is to be upfront about your budget and your expectations. If you've been pre-approved for $600,000, don't consume your time or your realtor's searching for houses in the $700,000s. If you're relocating and have one weekend to house hunt, make arrangements so that your realtor has blocked out the weekend just for you.
The internet makes house hunting so easy, you may even find yourself falling in love and submitting an offer sight unseen. In that event, ask Santa to put some boxes under the tree.