First-time home buyers in Washington State tend to have a lot of questions about the home buying process. While much of this information already exists on our website, we thought it would be helpful to create a checklist for first-time buyers in Washington. Here are some of the things you should know, and do, when buying your first house.
1. Review recent home sales in your target areas.
Home prices in Washington have risen steadily and sharply over the last few years. (They were up by 11%, year over year, when this article was published.) As a first-time home buyer, it’s important to take a look at recent sales prices in the areas where you want to buy. This will allow you to determine if a certain neighborhood falls within your budget.
Fortunately, most of much of this research can be conducted online and at no cost. Start by looking at the big real estate listing websites, with an eye out for recent sales prices.
And bear in mind that home prices tends to be lower on the outskirts of major cities. These “bedroom communities” can be a great option for those buying a first home in Washington, because they allow you to stretch your housing budget even further.
2. Get your financing arranged before entering the real estate market.
Most major cities across Washington (if not the entire state) are still experiencing seller’s market conditions. This means there are not enough homes listed for sale to satisfy demand from buyers.
In such a market, sellers can be pretty choosy when it comes to reviewing offers. So they will probably want to know if you have your financing lined up already.
Cash buyers should be ready to show bank statements proving their assets. And first-time home buyers who are using a mortgage loan can benefit from having a pre-approval letter from a lender. (Please contact us if you would like to start the pre-approval process, or if you have questions about it.)
3. Be ready to move quickly when the right house comes along.
Due to the supply and demand imbalance mentioned above, real estate markets across Washington State will remain highly competitive in 2018. And in this context, “competitive” means fast-moving.
As a first-time home buyer, you want to be as efficient as possible during your housing search. This means making a strong purchase offer in a timely fashion, to get ahead of other buyers.
This is where the market research from checklist item #1 can really pay off. Having a good understanding of the current real estate market – including recent sales prices – can help you put an offer together more quickly.
4. Get an experienced real estate agent on your side.
We encourage all first-time home buyers in Washington to seek help from an experienced, knowledgeable real estate agent. Having professional help is always important, but it’s even more crucial in a highly competitive real estate market like ours.
A good agent can help you find a property that meets your needs, evaluate the seller’s asking price, and put together a strong offer in a timely manner. Additionally, and when you consider that it’s typically the seller who pays the real estate agent commissions, you really have no reason something or other.
5. Research the different mortgage loan options.
As a home buyer and borrower, you have a lot of different options when it comes to choosing a mortgage loan. And some loans are better suited to first-time buyers in Washington than others. For instance, some mortgage programs offer a relatively low down payment that can be appealing to those with limited cash.
We can help you research your financing options in two ways.
First, you can review our guide to the different types of home loans available in Washington.
You could also speak to one of our knowledgeable loan officers, who can help you choose the right type of mortgage for your particular situation.