If you're hoping Santa puts a new home under the tree in Colorado Springs, now is a perfect 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 before, it is not a bad thought to freshen up on your home buying and moving skills so when the time comes, you maneuver it like a professional.
Financial Check-Up in Colorado Springs
First, get your finances in order. Unless you're paying cash for a home, you will need a mortgage. While mortgage lending rules have relaxed a little recently, you'll still want to have all your money matters straightened out and tidy before you talk with a loan officer (even a virtual one). Request a copy of your credit report to make certain you have not been a victim of identity theft, and double check that all your bills have been paid in a timely fashion. If you see something that does not appear right, contact the credit reporting agency to report wrong information.
It is always 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 need to be ready to submit an offer on a home when you discover it. These days, a lot of sellers will not even look at an offer without a pre-approval from a lender. Do not confuse a pre-approval and a pre-qualification; the pre-approval reflects that your credit and income are already okay--sometimes already underwritten--with the lender, you just need to find a residence. A pre-qualification reflects that they looked through your credit report and if all other factors line out then they'll consider a loan.
You want everything in the new home—the best 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 some compromises somewhere, so proceed and assemble your wants list and your needs list, and look at where the two intersect. Regardless of your budget you are not going to find every last thing that you want, so focus on your needs. If you need to be in a certain 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 should 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 out of your price range.
It should go without saying, but needs to be said anyway, that your family should concur with the needs and the wants. If you want a to have an acre for your garden 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 Colorado Springs
A wonderful real estate agent is not the one who is a "million-dollar producer" (this could 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 are going to be spending a lot of time together, and she will be helping you through a large financial transaction. Pick 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 responsibility when you are interviewing realtors is to be upfront about your budget and your expectations. If you've been pre-approved for $600,000, do not misuse your time or your realtor's searching for houses in the $700,000s. If you're relocating and have one weekend to house hunt, plan so that your realtor has blocked out the weekend just for you.
The internet makes house hunting so easy, you might find yourself falling in love and submitting an offer sight unseen. In that case, ask Santa to put some boxes under the tree.