House hunting? Here's how to put yourself in the best position – USA TODAY


Trying to buy a home right now is no joke. Most properties receive multiple offers, with some buyers willing to eat the difference between what they pay and what a property is worth. If you rightly view a home purchase as a business transaction, do not give up hope. It is possible to pay a fair price and build equity immediately.
The key is to remain adaptable. Get all your financial ducks in a row so you’re ready to strike when you find the right home. Interview real estate agents until you find one that gets you. And be flexible about what makes a place a dream home.
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These four tips can help you get started.
Over the past six weeks, mortgage rates have been all over the place. Shop around to find out which lender offers the best rate and terms for the mortgage you need. Once you’ve found a lender, get pre-approved for a loan. If you’re not sure which lender you want to work with, it’s okay to be pre-approved by more than one. Here’s what you can expect to be asked to provide:
Using this information and the information on your credit report, lenders will determine whether they feel secure loaning you money.
It’s important to note that the credit check will ding your credit report by several points, but it shouldn’t be much, and your score will quickly rebound once you make a few on-time payments. No matter how many different mortgage lenders check your credit report, it will count as one hard credit inquiry. That’s because the credit reporting agencies understand that people shop around for the best loan and that several lenders may pull reports. If you can complete your loan shopping within two weeks, it will be apparent to the credit reporting agencies that you’re seeking the best loan available.
Once approved, lenders will provide you with a pre-approval letter indicating how much you’re eligible to borrow. Having this letter on hand is essential for your home search. Not only does it give you an idea of how much you can spend, but it also indicates that you’re serious about buying.
Mortgages:  Will rising rates help cool overheated housing market?
When buying or selling a home, the right real estate agent can make all the difference. Here are some of the characteristics of a great agent:
Let’s say you find a place to buy, but it was built during the Truman administration, and you’re concerned about its condition. If you want to write a home inspection contingency into your offer, a great real estate agent will do that for you. They may let you know that other people are not including contingencies or that adding a contingency may reduce your chances of buying the house, but they will support whatever you decide.
Bypassing real estate agents:  Homebuyers find their own leads
Many homes are selling the day they hit the market. Unless you’re comfortable getting into a bidding war, you may want to pay special attention to homes that have been on the market for 14 days or more. While a lingering home in today’s market is not the norm, that does not necessarily mean there’s something wrong with the property. Buyers may have passed it by because it’s dated, has zero curb appeal, or needs a little TLC.
If you find a straggler you think you may be able to work with, that’s one way to buy a home in a red-hot market without losing your shirt.
Most house hunters have a pretty clear idea of their dream home. You’ll be ahead of the game if you can let go of that dream and adopt a new one. Turnkey properties with all the bells and whistles draw a crowd, and that’s the type of home that inspires bidding wars.
If you’re stuck in a bidding war, you’ll be sure to pay top dollar. You may also feel pressured to give up essential contingencies, like a home inspection. If you can look at a less-than-perfect home and imagine how you would make it your own, you’re less likely to run into competition. Better yet, you may be able to buy the property for less than the asking price.
Rather than overpay for a house, why not buy one at a fair price and use the money you saved to make changes? If you’re short on cash, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and VA loans offer their own versions of a renovation mortgage.
Rehab mortgages allow you to borrow enough money to buy a home and renovate, all in a single mortgage. Depending on the type of loan, these programs are known by different names. For example:
With the right loan and a little imagination, it’s possible to purchase a property that’s not quite what you imagined and make it your dream home.
Mortgage rates are on the rise — and fast. But they’re still relatively low by historical standards. So, if you want to take advantage of rates before they climb too high, you’ll want to find a lender who can help you secure the best rate possible.
That is where Better Mortgage comes in.
You can get pre-approved in as little as 3 minutes, with no hard credit check, and lock your rate at any time. Another plus? They don’t charge origination or lender fees (which can be as high as 2% of the loan amount for some lenders).
Read our free review
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.



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