Are you considering buying a house?
Marissa Beach

May 13, 2019

Not sure what to do? Or how to get started? There are ten steps that you can do to make that dream, idea, or desire a reality. We will start with the first five steps here and will give you the next five steps next month.

Find a trusted real estate agent.

Many agents have online reviews on websites such as Zillow. You have the right to interview several agents before choosing. It is a courteous gesture that once you have selected an agent to let the agents know. If you are not sure what to ask when interviewing agents, RedFin and the National Association of Realtors can help.

Take a homebuyer class.

To learn more about homeownership, you can take a Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) homebuyer class, taught in various languages, either in person or online. Some classes are required to obtain down payment assistance while others are educational only. Regardless of the class type, whether it is 1 hour or 5 hours, classes will help inform you about the process.

Start Gathering all financial paperwork to meet with a loan officer. Loan officers will ask you to complete a mortgage application and provide financial information, some are:

  • Two years of tax returns
  • Two to six months of bank statements of all accounts
  • Employment history
  • Divorce documents
  • Liens
  • Judgments (e.g. bankruptcy)

Loan officers represent banks, credit unions or mortgage companies. Each type has a variety of mortgage products to offer (e.g. FHA, conventional, USDA, VA). You can choose who to work with and have the right to compare terms and ask questions. It is very important to have a pre-approval that has gone through underwriting, therefore, making your offer stronger and it may cut the number of days to close (e.g. 20 days instead of 45 days). Communication and availability are important considerations you must know when choosing a loan officer and real estate agent

Know your credit score and budget.

Credit reports are kept by three major credit agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Since buying a home may be the biggest financial investment you make in your lifetime. Be prepared to have enough savings required for at least:

  • Earnest money: 1% to 2% of the purchase price
  • Down payment: 3% to 20% of the purchase price
  • Inspection: $300 to $500 for inspection fee
  • Closing costs: 1% to 2% of the purchase price
  • Moving costs

If you don’t have enough savings for a down payment and closing costs, you can ask about first-time homebuyer and down payment assistance programs. Some options are offered through the county or state, such as the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, which requires you to take a 5-hour class with a certified realtor and loan officer or online. The program also has income limitations. Meeting with Mayra Gomez to check your credit score will save lots of time and energy. You may need to pay off some debt first and/or increase your credit score, which can take up to several months.

Know your criteria.

Real estate professionals cannot advise you on which cities to move to because that would be considered “steering,” that is, discriminatory. However, they can show you what the market has for sale based on your pre-approval and criteria. Realtors can provide information such as average purchase price narrowed down by cities, counties, and zip codes. If certain school districts and specific neighborhoods are important, you should share that information with your realtor. Also consider the housing type: condominium, townhouse, or home and general criteria (e.g. the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, home size,). It’s okay if you aren’t sure exactly what you want, your realtor can help narrow down your options. Note that not every home and condominium will accept any type of mortgage loan (e.g. FHA, conventional, USDA, VA), which a realtor can research in advance to seeing homes in person.

Information provided by Marissa Beach

Marissa became a Realtor in 2014 in Washington State after a decade of experience in the nonprofit industry. She graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American studies; and from the University of Washington with a Master’s of Public Administration. In 2017, she became the founding President of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, Seattle chapter; and in 2019 the Co-Vice President of Seattle’s Asian Real Estate Association of America. She loves teaching homebuyer classes in English and Spanish and specializes in helping first-time homebuyers and homeowners. Her honesty, integrity, and dedication, coupled with excellent customer service are essential to helping families achieve their dreams. Beyond real estate, in her free time, Marissa is passionate about helping communities through volunteerism, sponsorships, and education, and loves to travel. She can be reached at beachsellshomes@gmail.com or at (206) 920-5092.