My husband and I are debt-free, and we have an emergency fund of six months of expenses saved. We’d like to buy a home in the $250,000 to $275,000 price range in the near future, and we plan on saving $60,000 for a down payment. It should take a little less than two years to save that much money. When should we begin the search for a good real estate agent and start the underwriting process?
I’m really proud of you two. You’re being very intentional and goal-oriented about getting control of your finances and the home buying process.
I’d advise starting a conversation with a quality mortgage company when you’re about five or six months away from your savings goal date. There’s “pre-approval,” but there’s also something called “certified.” That’s a step beyond pre-approved, and it basically puts you in a position to make an offer when you’re ready for the purchase. So, getting certified as a buyer is very helpful. After that, sit down and talk with a few agents. Interview them, and decide on someone you like and trust. Find an experienced agent you’re comfortable with to guide you through the real estate world, and then start outlining your search and buying strategy.
What I would not do is jump from agent to agent. There’s a tremendous benefit in finding someone you trust and feel good about. I’m talking about a buyer’s agent who’s going to fight for you. This means someone who will show you several different properties, keep your wants and needs foremost in their mind, and help you get the best possible buy on your new home!
* Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including The Total Money Makeover.The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.