Mar 29 2022

How to Improve Your Luck House Hunting

Any potential homebuyer can find treasure at the end of the house-hunting rainbow. But instead of counting on the magic of a four-leaf clover, try following these proven methods for finding a house.

This St. Patrick’s Day, luck doesn’t have to be limited to the Irish. Any potential homebuyer can find treasure at the end of the house-hunting rainbow. But instead of counting on the magic of a four-leaf clover, try following these proven methods for finding a house.

Get Your Finances in Order

Buying a house takes some groundwork; you need to be on sound financial footing and take actions to resolve any issues before you start searching for a new home. Here are a few financial prerequisites to keep in mind as you prepare to buy a home:

  • Down payment. There are some ways to buy a home with no money down — one popular such option is a VA loan — but chances are you’re going to have to put down cash. How much? Most conventional mortgage programs require from 3% to 5% down. FHA loans, for example, require minimum down payments of 3.5% of the home’s sale price. While not realistic for many homebuyers, putting down 20% is ideal; that way you can probably avoid having to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) as you usually must when less than 20% is put down.
  • Credit score. You won’t be very lucky in getting approved for a mortgage if you have a terrible credit score. What should your score be? While this differs with individual situations and lenders, often between 580 and 620 is the minimum score one can have and still get approved for a mortgage. So best to check your credit before the house hunting begins, and the three major credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, are each required to give you a free report.
  • DTI. Knowing your debt-to-income ratio is important; your lender will use your DTI to evaluate your mortgage application. A DTI of more than 43% is usually considered high, making the borrower more of a risk to the lender. To figure out your DTI, just divide all the debt payments you make each month by your gross monthly income. If you can, pay down debts to get your DTI as low as possible.

Mortgage Pre-Approval is Key

You might be tempted just to go for mortgage pre-qualification as you begin your home search. You’re just starting to look, so what’s wrong with just getting a general idea of the mortgage you might be approved for? Right? Wrong. While pre-qualification can be a helpful tool in getting a sense of how much you can afford to pay for a home, pre-approval offers a much more effective tool that can be determinative in getting the house you desire. Some real estate agents won’t even work with potential buyers unless they have pre-approved mortgages.

Pre-approval letters, which are issued by lenders after they thoroughly evaluate a potential borrower’s financial situation, tell sellers you mean business. While not a guarantee you’ll get financing, a pre-approved mortgage proves that you more than likely meet the conditions of the mortgage loan you’ll need to buy the home you’re bidding on.

Figure Out the Features You Want

What kind of home do you want to live in? And where? These are huge questions with a variety of factors that can at times feel at odds. From the number of bathrooms and bedrooms to proximity to schools and public transportation — it can all feel dizzying. You might seek some help from online features and amenities checklists to see what experts have to say about what homebuyers most look for when house hunting.

Making a list of the features you want will also help with any online searches. Both consumer sites and the Multiple Listing Service systems that realtors use have filters that narrow searches by these features. If, for example, you don’t want a home with carpeting, you can eliminate those with carpeting from your searches.

Understand How Long Things Take

Having some idea of how long you’ll be looking for a home can bring you peace of mind. The same holds true for understanding how long it will take to close on a house after your bid is accepted by a seller. According to the National Association of Realtors, homebuyers usually search for about eight weeks, on average looking at eight homes: five in person and three houses only online. Closing on a house often takes between 30 and 45 days. So, from your first look at home listings to having the keys to your new house in hand, you may be looking at about three months or more.

Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

While online tools are wonderful — and NAR data shows that a whopping 95% of homebuyers searched for houses online — there’s nothing like having an in-person real estate pro in your corner. So much so that 87% of recent buyers bought their homes with help from brokers or real estate agents. A small minority, just 7%, bought their homes from builders or their agents.

Most buyers go with the very first agent they speak to; 73% of homebuyers interview just one real estate agent. But you might not want to follow the masses here, as interviewing up to three potential real estate agents seems like a wise choice. Get a feel for each agent, see if you’re in sync about the kind of home you’re looking for and how you’d like to go about searching for it. As these chats with potential agents are job interviews, you might approach them as such.

Pick the Perfect Mortgage Professionals

This one’s easy — City Lending has been the right choice for many homebuyers and we’re likely the best lender for you too. Our team is ready with a wide range of mortgage programs to meet the unique needs of individual borrowers.

Your proverbial pot of gold might be anything from a cozy cottage to a large luxury home. But there’s one thing all potential homeowners share: partnering with the loan professionals at City Lending will probably make you a lot luckier.

These days, more and more people are looking to buy their dream homes, especially as remote work and work-from-home setups have become an enduring trend. A 15 point increase in requests for home tours and other home-buying services, along with a 11% rise in Google searches for homes, indicate an uptick in demand to buy houses in the country. However, there is a definite worry about affordability when it comes to housing, especially as hefty price tags on available residences have kept the market just as competitive as before, if not more.

According to the latest reports from analysts, it’s not all bad for existing homebuyers and aspiring house hunters. As previous data shows, timing matters in the housing market, and working on different approaches to home buying – like through a reliable lender – can help advance you towards more affordable housing goals. Below, we discuss whether house hunters should buy now or wait, and why.


What is your financial situation?

Counter to the rise in home demand, there is a considerable lack of supply. Along with rising prices and interest rates, the housing market may seem like a highly competitive space with wealthy homeowners fighting for what little property is left. It can be overwhelming, but knowing where you stand financially can help you better strategize your home buying journey. Following the four key components of affordability, ask yourself:

  • How much do you have saved for a down payment?

  • How much does your household earn?

  • What debts do you carry?

  • What is your credit score?


Familiarizing yourself with these components will help inform your decision on whether or not to wait. For example, taking the time to improve your credit scores before committing can save you from higher interest rates in terms of your monthly mortgage payments. Alternatively, many young homebuyers are compromising by living with family for a significant amount time to save up for a down payment. Getting this out of the way when you’re able to can help you get better loans to buy sooner than later in case interest rates end up increasing.

What kind of home is best for you?

Buying a home is a huge purchase and a big commitment. With shifts to digital and remote ways of working taking place in recent years, this has provided homebuyers with opportunities to be more flexible when buying homes. Homes in areas away from busy cities and urban hubs, for example, are considerably cheaper. This makes them a perfect option for buyers who work from home, or aren’t required to be present in the office on a consistent basis.

The lifestyle you expect to live is as much a factor to consider as money. Condos and townhouses offer lower maintenance costs in the long run, and are perfect for smaller households when compared to single-family homes. If the household grows, homebuyers looking for a side income can even invest in renting out purchased properties to passively earn back what they spent and look into bigger properties for family use.

What does the future look like?

In a previous post, we talked about the rising mortgage and interest rates. While the market may seem bleak or intimidating in its current condition, housing experts also believe factors such as supply have a high chance of returning to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024. If you are financially able, buying now while others may be intimidated by the prices can give you an edge. Conversely, taking some time to get your finances in order can benefit you when it comes to securing better loans and lower interest rates.

Working with experts can help you make better decisions for the loans you need, making sure you don’t get trapped with high interest rates or hidden charges. The future of fintech suggests that big data is the future of loans, as more online lenders are now using algorithms, which predict potential defaults better than FICO scores do. Data is also leveraged precisely to identify customers who fit various products well — which can give you peace of mind, as an aspiring borrower. Here at City Lending for example, we find the right programs to fit your needs and profile, making sure you get some of the lowest down payments and interest rates along with a premium service.

And if you’re still unsure, it’s worth considering that waiting it out in the market’s current wild conditions could result in even higher interest rates in the future. At the end of the day, buying a house is ultimately a huge investment, which comes with benefits such as privacy and a financial investment that for the most part will weather most economic storms.

Find out if this is the right time for you to get a house by contacting one of our loan officers today.


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Written by Alicia Christopher

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