First, and MOST important, find a lender. Most people tend to think that finding a real estate agent or finding their dream home should come first. However, finding the lender first accomplishes many things. Not only are you getting a pre-qualification and a loan, you also know the price of house you are looking for. If you spend a lot of time looking for a house that you really like first, before getting a loan, you are taking the risk of not being able to obtain a loan for that particular property. Getting a loan first will save your from heartache and save your realtor from a lot of unnecessary leg-work. Also, when you have a prequalification in your hand, it helps in negotiating a final purchase price of the home because it looks like you are serious buyer.
Once the loan is complete, it is very wise to find a realtor. Never try to find a home on your own for two reasons. One, writing offers, dealing with contracts and negotiating a final purchase price is a very complicated process. Real estate professionals deal with these tasks on a daily basis. Secondly, if you simply decide to use the agent who listed the home, you have no representation for yourself. The agent who listed the home is obligated to the sellers of that home. You on the other hand, wouldn’t have any leverage as far as negotiating goes. If you think you are saving money by using the listing agent, think again. Commission is paid completely and solely by the sellers. Having your own representation and someone who can negotiate for you is very beneficial.
When you search for a real estate agent, do some research. Take the time to interview with a few of them to get a feel for their professionalism, knowledge, attitude and likeness in character. Most agents will automatically take you as clients because they all work off of commission and most do exactly the same work as any other. Remember this: When interviewing agents, you are auditioning them, not the other way around. It is best to find someone you can relate to and discuss home-buying matters with comfortably. When you have found the agent that best suits you, together, you will be able to find the house that best suits you.
Lastly, find a home that you are comfortable living in, don’t settle. After all, this is one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. Your agent will be able to locate homes according to your price range and amenities. You should be confident in talking to your agent about your likes and dislikes of any home that you preview. This will also help your agent narrow down the possibilities to exactly what you are looking for.
Following these steps can greatly decrease time, frustration and energy.