Ringing in the New Year with a New House in Wichita Falls

New Home for New Years

If you're wishing Santa deposits a new abode under the tree in Wichita Falls, now is a good time to get prepared for what happens next--once he is up the chimney you're alone for mortgages and moving. Even if you've owned a home previously, it's not a bad plan to brush up on your home buying and moving skills so when the time comes, you navigate it like a professional.

Financial Check-Up in Wichita Falls

First, get your finances in order. Unless you are paying cash for a house, you will need a mortgage. While mortgage lending rules have slackened some recently, you'll still want to have all your financial matters organized and tidy before you discuss anything with a loan officer (even a virtual one). Get a copy of your credit report to ensure you haven't been a victim of identity theft, and make sure all your bills have been paid in a timely fashion. If you see something that does not appear true, contact the credit reporting agency to report inaccurate information.

It is always a great idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. In some regions of the country the real estate market never slows down, and you want to be ready to submit an offer on a home when you find it. Currently, a large number of sellers won’t even entertain an offer without a pre-approval from a lender. Do not confuse a pre-approval with 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 home. A pre-qualification shows that they perused your credit report and if all other factors check out then they'll consider a loan.

I Want....

You want it all in the new house—outstanding schools, outdoor kitchen, open floor plan, mature landscaping, privacy, fabulous neighbors, and low real estate taxes. It is likely that you are going to need to make one or two adjustments 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 find every last thing that you want, so pay closest attention to on your needs. If you need to be in a certain school district, or you need to be within a certain mileage of the airport, or you have five kids and need lots of 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 large or small, too far off the beaten track, or out of your price range.

It should go without saying, but needs to be said anyway, that your family should be on the same page 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 wonderful 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 solid working relationship with--after all, you are going to be spending a lot of time together, and she will be acting on your behalf in a large financial transaction. Look for someone who's easy to talk to, that you can trust, and who really listens to what you're saying--if your limit is $350,000, she should respect that.

Your job when you are interviewing realtors is to be honest about your budget and your expectations. If you have been pre-approved for $600,000, don't squander your time or your realtor's looking at 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 less difficult, you may even find yourself falling in love and submitting an offer sight unseen. In that case, ask Santa to put some boxes in your stocking.