I’ve had several people ask me for help finding a rental property lately. The reasons for renting vs. buying vary from loan qualifying barriers to being newly relocated and wanting to spend some time finding the perfect neighborhood in which to buy. Given that we are still seeing a heated rental market with inventory down and prices steadily increasing, owners can easily lock renters into year long or more lease lengths. If you’re currently a renter who plans to eventually be a homeowner, when is the right time to start talking to a Realtor and a lender? The time is NOW!
Moving from unqualified to qualified for a loan is a lot like losing weight. It typically requires a strategic plan, some discipline, and maybe a bit of coaching. Very few of us would start a diet plan without knowing our current weight and “problem areas” that we’d like to modify. Well, qualifying for a mortgage starts with a bold look at where you currently are, what problem areas need to be remedied, and a plan for getting where you want to be. Most lenders (all of those that I work with in particular), offer consulting and “coaching” services. After meeting with a lender, you will have a pretty firm idea of when and how you will become qualified to purchase a home; the fog of renting starts to clear, and you can begin to envision yourself being handed the keys to a set monthly housing budget that won’t increase at the whim of a landlord, and decorating to your hearts desire!
Working with a Realtor in advance of your being ready to buy gives you some time to become educated about the purchasing process. While intense home showings typically happen once you’re qualified to purchase a home, there is a lot of preparation that a Realtor can assist with prior to obtaining that qualification. I have spent a lot of time with future home-owners exploring neighborhoods, educating them on how to be a savvy home-buyer, connecting them to resources and community services, and building a collaborative relationship that makes the purchase process enjoyable and efficient. If you are renting with the goal of buying, you have the time to become educated about market conditions in the neighborhoods of interest. Knowing whether a particular market is heated or cool will guide you in determining how much under (or over in some cases) list price you should be prepared to offer, what type of appreciation you can expect, and whether you will need to act quickly or can take your time deciding to make an offer once you’re ready to buy. Don’t be afraid to ask your Realtor lots of questions, even if your purchase may be down the road a bit.
If you’re renting but plan to own a home someday, it’s never too early to say “I have a Realtor and lender that I trust”.