BECOMING A HOMEOWNER FOR THE FIRST TIME: A FIVE-STEP PROCESS
Navigating Hawaii’s housing market can be challenging, especially for first-time homeowners. Below, Locations breaks down its top five tips to ensure a smooth path to homeownership.
STEP 1: BUILD YOUR DREAM TEAM
Owning a home is probably the biggest investment you can ever make, so it pays to call in the trusted experts. You’ll want to build your team around a professional, full-time REALTOR® and a loan officer.
A qualified REALTOR® will represent you and your interests throughout the homeownership process. Because a REALTOR®’s commissions are generally paid by the home-seller, their expert services are essentially free to you as a buyer.
When interviewing REALTORS®, you’ll want to look for someone whose full-time career is in real estate, and not just his/ her hobby. You’ll also want to find someone you can relate to and who thoroughly understands your needs.
Not sure where to find a REALTOR®? Visit Locationshawaii.com to browse its more than 275 full-time real estate professionals. You can even search by office location (Locations has five offices across Oahu) and languages spoken.
The next step is to find an experienced loan officer — and your Locations agent will be able to assist you with that.
STEP 2: GET PREQUALIFIED
Getting prequalified is the first, and one of the most important, step on your journey to homeownership. Before you start shopping for a new home, you’ll want to talk to your loan officer.
Once you’ve found a lender you trust, the next step is to talk numbers. The loan officer will ask you a series of questions about your income and your expenses to determine how much of a home you can comfortably afford. This way you won’t waste your time and energy looking at homes that are not within your financial comfort zone.
Once you determine how much you are comfortable spending on your home each month, you can narrow your search to specific areas and housing types, which will save you countless hours in the long run.
STEP 3: CLEAN UP YOUR CREDIT REPORT (IF NEEDED)
Part of getting prequalified includes a review of your credit report. If your credit score is low, you may not qualify for the lowest interest rates available. Your loan officer will advise you on steps to take to improve your score.
STEP 4: GATHER ALL YOUR FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS
In some cases, you might be able to prequalify for a loan without all of these documents, but it’s best to have them handy.
Typically, you will ultimately need to provide your loan officer with the following:
• Two months of pay stubs
• Two months of bank statements
• Previous two years of tax returns
STEP 5: START YOUR SEARCH ONLINE
Use Locations’ powerful real estate search to get started. Download its mobile app or visit Locationshawaii.com to get free access to the most comprehensive real estate search in Hawaii. Locations offers not only all the “active” listings across the island and the state, but “sold” and “in escrow” properties, too.
With thousands of property listings at your fingertips, you can search for all available properties across the island by price, location and hundreds of other criteria, so you can start planning your house visits with your REALTOR®. Now you’re on your way to homeownership — how easy was that?