Your road trip experience largely depends on the company you keep. Just like having the right playlist makes the journey more enjoyable, having the right people with you can help you get to your final destination!
When starting your homebuying "road trip" be sure to pack your car with trusted professionals who will help you avoid bumps in the road. Here are some of the people you'll want to invite with you on your journey:
Housing counselor: Housing counselors can help you prepare before you hit the road—their job is to make sure you are ready for your trip toward homeownership. Housing counselors are not required but are often recommended for first-time homebuyers. They can help you assess your financial situation and educate you on the homebuying process, types of mortgages, and provide budget guidance. The best part? Their services are often available at little or no cost.
Real estate agent: You may consider your real estate agent your shotgun rider as they should be at your side to help you navigate each step of the homebuying process and readily available to answer all your real-estate related questions. It is the real estate agent's job to help you find a home that meets your needs and budget requirements. They can also provide information on neighborhoods, schools, property tax rates, etc. Your agent will also typically handle negotiations with the seller when you put an offer on a home.
Lender: Your lender is responsible for helping you secure the best financing options for your situation. They should educate you on different mortgage options, rates, points and general mortgage terms. It's highly recommended that you meet with more than one lender to find the loan that is right for you. When your destination is on the horizon, your lender will provide you with the necessary forms for closing and help you understand all costs and terms before signing.
Home inspector: Before you finalize your purchase, you will need a home inspector to examine the condition of the home. An inspector's job is to evaluate the property and report on any items requiring extensive repairs, as well as general maintenance and safety issues. A great home inspector can help you save by spotting problems early. You can use the inspector report to help negotiate a better deal with the seller.
Closing representatives: Your closing agent will oversee and coordinate the closing or "settlement" of your loan, record the closing documents, and pay the money to the appropriate individuals and organizations. Many people experience closing day jitters—don't be afraid to ask for clarity. Your representative should know the status of your closing at any given time – that's the value of having the right people with you on your trip.