After I decided to go with the realtor/broker’s office to help me on my real estate journey, they left it in my hands to gather all the documents necessary to begin the process of being pre-approved for a home loan. Apparently, it’s a lot easier to go into an offer with a pre-approval letter in hand.
What kind of documents are needed for a home loan pre-approval? They will need to see your W-2s, your tax returns from the last year or two, any additional income you receive (such as child support, alimony, etc.), pay stubs, and any other documents they feel are necessary to get the ball rolling.
During this process, I found that my debt-to-income ratio was a little high. I was surprised by this and assumed it was because of my two credit cards that I’ve been paying off. Turns out it was because of my car (which I had to buy following a massive car accident almost three years ago). Also, the loan officers needed to see proof that I receive child support every month, as that’s considered a form of income.
The Pre-Approval Process
The pre-approval process doesn’t take much time, as long as you’re able to provide the documents in a timely manner and don’t drag your feet. Once this is done, either you or your chosen loan officer can get the pre-approval letter sent over to your realtor or broker, and then you can start figuring out a plan as far as buying your home.
There’s a crucial step between the pre-approval and listing the home. That step is prepping the home by cleaning, organizing and performing small repairs before showing your home to an eager public. For my old house, I knew that I needed to make some repairs and improvements before anyone saw it. I paid for a new swamp cooler and code upgrades for the water heater and furnace last year. In previous years, I had to have repairs performed on the roof and ceiling, painting in one room, and a new fence put up between myself and my next-door neighbors (which is a story for another blog).
Time To Clean
After the repairs were done, next came organizing and cleaning. My broker came by to look at the house and make suggestions on what could be done to get the most bang for our buck. She saw my back bedroom, which I had always described as my “junk room.” I left a lot of things in that bedroom that didn’t need my attention, and it showed over the years. It had collected a hodgepodge of junk over the years, and I actually apologized to the broker before I opened the door to the room. She looked in and I could see the disgust on her face when she saw it. Now, let me be clear, it wasn’t disgusting as far as stains or smell. It was just cluttered, messy and dusty. But her face clearly said what she wouldn’t allow her mouth to say, which was, “Good grief, she never cleaned this room the whole time she lived here.”
Over the course of a few weekends, and with the help of my mom, my broker and my best friend, I was able to pack up the majority of my house and do some deep cleaning before a photographer came to take pictures of my home for listing. I packed everything I knew I wouldn’t need between listing and moving, and my best friend helped with a thorough cleaning of my kitchen. I dusted, vacuumed, and made my home camera ready. It was exhausting, but worth it when my tiny little townhouse had 24 scheduled showings in one weekend.
While my house was on full display to the Albuquerque public, this was the perfect opportunity to look at houses myself. I was already going to have to be out of the house, so it made sense to go look for my new house at the same time.
The Best Part Of Looking For A Home
If I’m being completely honest, the most fun part of buying a home is going to look at the homes. Whether it’s an open house or a scheduled showing, walking around a house and picturing yourself and your belongings in the home is pretty exciting. But there are some things to consider when looking at those houses, such as:
- Do I really see myself in this house?
- Is this the right neighborhood for me and my family? Will the neighborhood stay like this over the course of 5, 10 or 20 years?
- What is the school district like? This is important for parents to look into.
- What kind of maintenance, repairs or upkeep will this house require? What do those costs look like?
- How will my utility bills look? How much will my mortgage go up?
Sometimes, however, you’ll walk into a house, and you just know that it’s not the right one for you. There could be absolutely nothing wrong with the house, but something about it just doesn’t give you the homey feels. I remember looking at one house that looked okay in pictures but seeing it in person gave me a different feeling. It was a house that seemed to photograph okay, but there was something that told me that I should look at it in person. When I saw the house, it was in a great part of town, good school district, but you could tell that the neighborhood was on a steady decline and there were some unsavory neighbors just across the street. Plus, the house was smaller than it appeared in photos, and the backyard didn’t seem safe or secure. I was glad to see it and know for a fact that it wasn’t the house for me and my son.
But I was lucky with the house I’ve bought. I saw it online and was interested in seeing it in person. After walking into the house, I knew immediately I wanted to put an offer on it. I didn’t even have a buyer on my old house! And this was the first house I looked at that weekend! But I knew I wanted this house. It was in a nice neighborhood, good school district, in my price range and had many of the features I was looking for in my new home. The house is further away from work and my parents’ house, and there’s an HOA, but all of this is worth it to be in a better neighborhood for myself and my son.
What happened with listing weekend? How did I determine which offer was the best to accept? Stay tuned for the next chapter in this series.