Just like home sellers, one year is a good starting point. Read my post How Long Before Selling a Home Should You Contact Your Agent?
The benefit of talking to your real estate person early in the process for buyers is tw0-fold
1. The education process can be long. Buyers frequently have an idea in their head as to what they want to buy. However, as they go through the education process that tends to change; sometimes dramatically. Home shoppers can casually spend time on their own driving to different properties to check out neighborhoods, the outside of homes, and access to schools/shopping/etc. This is an opportunity to see what type of home your projected price range will produce.
2. Financing...boring and sucky to think about. This is the least fun part of the process, but it dictates EVERYTHING. How much can you afford? How much cash do you need to have in your account to buy the home?
And the big one, credit. Credit repair specialist, Sandy Northup owner of A+ Credit Services, says, "Credit is not black and white and, unfortunately, does not recover quickly. Each person's situation is unique and requires an expert hand to optimize results."
Here's a quote from one of my clients, Wendy, currently in the middle of their home search and education process:
"Starting the process almost a year before we were ready to buy has provided invaluable education on the general market, what's available in certain areas, what we can live with or live without - fine tuning what our real estate and life goals really are. In other words, what you thought you wanted, what is reality and what you really love in the end may be very different. From a financial standpoint, we've also had plenty of time to budget for costs involved, speak with a lender and research available mortgage options, narrowing down what is best for our situation. We now know what we can comfortably afford long term. With Jim's expertise and the knowledge we've gained along the way, we are confident that our purchase this June will go smoothly."
This processes, like selling, is long and dynamic and requires an expert hand to lead the way. So, as soon as you are THINKING about buying a home, give your expert a call to help you along the way.
Jim Ellis is a 12 year veteran of the real estate business from the Raleigh area of North Carolina.