Buying a home is more than a process – it’s a major purchase, a rite of passage and a cornerstone of the American Dream. However, a lot has changed since your parents purchased their own place. Discover the many ways that technology, trends and purchasing power have changed the real estate industry and reshaped the way today’s generation buys homes. You’ll also get valuable tips on how to find a house and a mortgage that’s right for you.
The evolution of the home buying process
Planning and saving for a house used to take lots of time. In contrast, today’s home buying tools can help make the process faster and easier for both buyers and sellers alike.
FINDING A HOME
Then: Flyers and Yard Signs
Now: Websites and Smartphone Apps
Years ago, people who didn’t know how to find a house would only have a few options. Most would begin their search in the local newspaper or drive around to look for yard signs announcing which homes were for sale in the neighborhood they wanted. If you were moving to a new town or a new state, your search would begin with a call to a realtor’s office in that location. After telling an agent what you were looking for in a home, the agent would contact you with a list of choices and set up a time for you to visit the homes in person.
While newspapers and yard signs are still common ways to find homes today, more and more people are turning to the Internet to help them make an informed choice. A number of websites, home buying apps and tools are available to help people find a home with the right features, in the right place, at the right price. Some home buying apps even offer information about the surrounding neighborhood – including walkability, crime statistics and school ratings – so families can be sure that they’re making a solid investment in their future. No matter which method you choose, take time to make a list of home features you want, then breaking this list into, “must haves,” “nice to have,” and “dream” options. Buying a home involves compromise, so it’s good to let your realtor know what is essential (such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms) and what you’d like, but can live without (like a finished basement). It’s one way to make the home buying process easier for everyone.
Then: Real Estate Agents, Home Tours and Phone Calls
Now: Real Estate Agents, VR Tours and Texts
How did your parents find their first realtor? It’s likely that they saw the agent’s name and contact info on a yard sign, or that they asked friends and family for a referral. These days, the home buying process still involves a realtor, but many people start researching online long before picking up the phone. Like almost everything else online, people can now find reviews and rankings for real estate agents in their area, along with information about their specializations. If you’re looking for an urban condo, an eco-friendly rural home or just a simple suburban dwelling, chances are that a specialized agent knows how to find a house that fits your lifestyle.
Traditional home comparisons have also changed. Looking at photos and going on model home tours has given way to cutting edge experiences like VR headsets and overhead drone shots of a home and its surrounding property. However, many realtors say that the biggest trend isn’t for sleek appliances or spacious layouts. Instead, many buyers today are more concerned with having all of the information they need up front. When working with your real estate agent, don’t hesitate to ask questions, take notes or ask for items like timelines, charts or checklists that can help you stay organized. Buying a home can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to stay on track.
BUYING A HOME
Then: Spend The Day Visiting Banks
Now: Spend An Evening Applying Online
Buying a home is about more than bedrooms and balconies – it’s also important to assess your finances, determine your budget and apply for a loan. These days, a wide range of mortgage tools make it easy for you to get pre-approved for loans, compare offers and find the mortgage that can help you buy a home with the location and features you want. While you can still visit a bank branch if you want that personal touch, you can also save time and pre-qualify online. You might still go through some of the more traditional steps in the mortgage process, but there’s a lot you can do on your terms.
If you’re already looking at homes, you can pre-qualify for a loan today with just a few easy steps. Not sure where to begin? Our mortgage specialists can help answer your questions and walk you through pre-approval and the loan application process. Get started today!