Real Estate & Area News

Learn Before You Buy - Vital Prep for Prospective Homebuyers

The decision to buy a home is a big one, and should not be taken lightly. The process of buying a home can be a long, complicated process that drives you crazy, especially if you're learning as you go. With this in mind, there are plenty of resources out there in Internetland for prospective buyers to educate themselves on mortgages, escrow and other housing-related issues. These resources can be very difficult to find, however, and in many cases inaccurate or specific to a market other than yours. Luckily, real estate is big business and there are plenty of detail-oriented options provided by reputable housing professionals in most markets around the US.

Homebuying seminars offer an excellent opportunity for first-time homebuyers to educate themselves before immersing themselves in the process. These events are staged by large real estate firms, lenders or other housing-related companies to provide entry-level information to renters who are considering buying. This information is presented by real estate agents, mortgage servicers or others with homebuying expertise and is tailored for the market in which the seminars are held. Prospective buyers rarely have an opportunity for one-on-one sessions with the professionals, but can take in the information presented and follow up with a professional later to ask any questions.

Another good option for housing education is homebuying fairs. Usually staged by local government housing agencies to encourage homeownership, these fairs are often whole day or even weekend events offering plentiful info on everything from new home subdivisions in the community, home financing and even maintaining or remodeling homes. Professionals from various housing industries are often on hand for consultation as well, meaning you can often get your own questions answered directly. Lenders are even set up at these events, so you can find out if you can qualify for a loan or even get pre-approved.

In addition to homebuying fairs, many local governments also offer classes to the public as a way of pushing renters to become homeowners. These classes offer a thorough introduction to the housing sector, including market-specific information such as local housing regulations and market conditions. The classes are often required for homebuyers participating in certain government homebuying programs, and are typically free to attend.

Seminars, fairs and classes can give a prospective homebuyer a solid foundation of knowledge about the homebuying process, but most buyers will finalize their housing educations through direct consultations with professionals. Before putting in an offer, most shoppers will meet with a lender in order to get pre-approved or pre-qualified for a mortgage. This meeting provides the perfect opportunity to ask questions about anything you still find confusing. Most homebuyers will also consult with a real estate agent when they're ready to buy, and that agent represents the final piece of the real estate education puzzle. Agents don't get paid until a home sale closes, so make sure you're comfortable with everything before signing a contract. It's also a good idea to ask around and find an agent with plenty of experience with first time buyers.

Whether you are just beginning to consider homeownership or are already pre-approved for a loan and ready to make an offer, familiarizing yourself with the housing market can help you prevent costly mistakes and crippling stress. Even those shopping for a second or third home can benefit by a refresher course on elements they don't remember very well. A little preparation undertaken by prospective buyers can go along way in simplifying the process involved in what will be the biggest investment in most Americans' lives.

June 4, 2014