Buying in Colorado this year? Time to get ready
Typically, more buyers are out and about buying homes in the spring market. The spring market in Northern Colorado starts as early as February, and continues through June. Being prepared for Colorado’s spring market could make you the “early bird” buyer who gets the worm….I mean…home!
I liken home shopping to worm hunting. My daughter loves worms more than people love browsing Zillow, and all spring she keeps her worm-hunting supplies at-the-ready by the back door. Though a storm (or in your case, a house) may not come that day, she is ready to act during the short windows worms may become available so she’s not scrambling when the opportunity presents itself.
Similarly, if you are buying this year, you need to prepare for Colorado’s spring market. The right house may not be listed soon, and you may choose to not make an offer even if it does, but unless you’re ready another shopper will certainly swoop in and buy that house that caught your eye.
And let’s be honest: even if you don’t proceed with house shopping, annually reviewing your finances and budget is always a great idea!)
Here’s how to get started…
Get Your Finances and Budget In Order
- Completely analyze your finances and collect any necessary documents. Your lender will need to look over your income information, bank statements, proof of current income, copies of tax returns, and brokerage account statements.
- Don’t do anything now that could damage your credit score. Postpone making any big purchases like a car, and don’t accumulate a mountain of credit card debt.
- Go through your budget to determine what you can pay (and feel comfortable paying) per month toward your new home. Focus more on your monthly budget and desired payments and less on the purchase price for right now.
Get Pre-Approved for a Loan
You must get pre-approved BEFORE you get too far into looking at homes (this is not a typo–you need to be APPROVED for a loan, not qualified). This is especially important in Colorado’s spring market as most buyers are out in force.
Sellers like to work with buyers who are already pre-approved for a loan because they you’re you’re serious. Getting prequalified is commonly free, and if you do have to pay for it, often those fees are credited back to you at closing. It’s one of the most important steps in getting prepared for Colorado’s spring market!
To get this done, meet with a mortgage lender who can get you up to speed on different loan products and their requirements (such as credit score and down payment), and also give you an overview of current interest rates and their future outlook.
The better your financial picture, the better the rate and loan … it’s that simple. However, most people are approved for more than they want to spend every month, so be sure to understand the correlation between your price point and your monthly payment. Tell your lender that you are interested in understanding what price range to be looking in based on the monthly payments you feel comfortable with.
Contact me before you start shopping for a lender. Who you use matters, and can make or break your deal! (NOTE: I am not given kickbacks for referring you to any lender, ever. I want you to be successful, and will only recommend locals I love.)
Explore and Window Shop
Before buying a home you need to understand your needs and wants. Take these steps to help you learn what you like and don’t like so you’re all set (and confident!) when it comes time for serious house hunting and the rush of putting in an offer.
- Really think hard about your day-to-day life and what you want and need in your home. It helps to make a list of your must-haves (i.e., three bedrooms or a master suite) and your deal breakers (i.e., no eat-in kitchen or no parking space).
- Get to know the neighborhoods in which you are considering buying. Go there for your normal activities such as coffee with friends or grocery shopping. Try some local restaurants and see what it’s like there at night. You should even take your kids to the different playgrounds. Your agent can also give you guidance on other neighborhoods that are more affordable but have the same feel and amenities that you are looking for.
- Starting casually visiting open houses to get a sense of pricing for the space, location and features of homes. Think of this as window shopping, but leave the wallet at home! This will help educate you about the local market and how you much of your “wants and needs” are realistic within your budget. View homes for sale also online to further get a sense of what you like and don’t like, locations, and what’s in your budget.
It’s the Final Countdown
Before you get swept up into the house hunting process, it’s time to stop and ask yourself some serious questions.
Hopefully, you understand your personal needs and budget at this point but it’s good to go through some self-reflection to make sure if moving forward on a home is right for you at this time.
Is your lifestyle ready for homeownership? Do you plan to be in the area for at least another five years? Is your job stable and income consistent? Do you plan to marry or have children soon that may affect where you live?
It doesn’t hurt to put some feelers out and then realize that you might need to wait another year or so before you are comfortable or ready to put down roots. This is your life, and your home, and it needs to happen on your schedule.
When You’re Ready!
If you know you want to buy a home this year, let’s get started before other buyers are out there making offers. Reach out to me so we can make a plan. It’s never too early to prepare and start the planning process, and I’m ready when you are. Click here to schedule a time to chat and consider if you’re ready to get serious!
I'm Libby Earthman. I specialize in helping first-time buyers and sellers on Colorado’s northern Front Range. I want you to know HOW to make well-reasoned real estate decisions, and I assertively protect your interests during the transaction.
402 Main Street
Longmont, CO 80501