So you want to buy a home in Austin, congrats! Austin is well-known for being an environmentally-friendly city, one of the top cities in Texas to raise a family, and one of America’s most bike-friendly cities.
With the Austin-area economy booming and being a city that’s ideal for entrepreneurs, it’s no surprise that Austin’s population continues to rise to over 100 new residents every day.
Whether you’re moving to Austin or are a first-time home buyer in Austin, here are some important steps to consider when house hunting and when you’re ready to buy a home in Austin.
Before You Start Your House Hunt
There are always a lot of unique homes for sale in Austin, and whether you prefer to live in Old West Austin or Barton Hills, it’s important to do a little financial “prep” work before you start looking at houses on the Austin real estate market.
Take a Look at Your Budget
Even if you plan on getting a loan for your first home, you need to determine a budget.
Most budgets end up being tentative, especially when you consider additional costs associated with home buying, but a budget will give you a general idea of what you have to work with financially.
Most people tend to overstate their budget because they have dreams of living in a big, beautiful house. However, it’s essential that you are realistic when setting your budget so that you can avoid any potential letdowns later on.
Check Your Credit
As you should with any major investment, it’s essential to check your credit since your credit score plays a big role in determining the terms of your mortgage.
If your credit score needs a little work, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy a home, but you may have to delay buying a home in Austin while you work on improving your score.
Pick a Lender
The lender you choose will strongly depend on your needs as a home buyer. While some lenders offer a large selection of loan options (such as loans for home buyers with a low credit score), others have limited offerings. If you’re new to the Austin area, don’t forget to check out local lenders.
Start by talking with your own bank and see if they can work with you. You may need to branch out and find another financial institution or national mortgage company to meet all of your lending needs. It’s best to have a few “backup” lenders, just in case your preferred lender can’t help you.
Getting pre-approved for a loan is an important step before you buy a home because not only will it give you a clear picture of how much a lender will give you, but it also allows you to decide if you can afford to be a homeowner.
Be prepared to verify your income, take a look at your credit rating, and other financial information when you meet with a lender during the pre-approval process.
Visit Austin-Area Neighborhoods
Maybe living in the heart of Central Austin is your top pick, but after meeting with a lender, it’s not a feasible option. Don’t be afraid to take a look at some other popular neighborhoods throughout Austin.
Rollingwood, for example, is a popular neighborhood for Austinites who want to be close to downtown but enjoy a quiet, small-town feel. Choosing to live in a different neighborhood, rather than the Central district could save you upwards of $200,000.
Some homes in Austin cost over $400,000, but according to the U.S. Census, the median cost of a home in Austin is $285,000.
Depending on your future plans, you may want to choose a neighborhood that will fit your current lifestyle as well as your life in a decade. Take a look at the features that are important to you such as location to schools and restaurants or the length of your commute to work.
Remember, even if you can’t afford to live in your dream neighborhood, Austin is an easy city to navigate, and every neighborhood has its “pluses.”
Fine Tune Your Home Search
No homebuyer should feel like they are “settling” on a property, but try to be realistic about your needs and wants when looking for a home in Austin. Maybe a home in your price range has a small backyard, but if you spend a lot of time hiking or mountain biking a small yard may not be a deal-breaker.
Are you planning to live in your home for a few years and upgrade to something bigger? Starter homes are a popular option for first time home buyers, but these types of homes are often lacking in meeting your long term needs or things you want (such as a fenced-in backyard or energy-efficient features).
Keep in mind that if you purchase a home that doesn’t have everything you want or need, you always have the option to add more features throughout the years or even fix up the property and boost the resale value.
Picking a Real Estate Agent
Once you’re pre-approved for a loan and can actively start making offers on homes, you need to decide which real estate agent you want to work with.
A good real estate agent will help ease the stress and confusion from the home buying process. Plus, it’s always good to have a local expert on your side.
Find someone you can trust and makes you feel confident about buying a home. Smart Austin Realty agents are local experts with extensive knowledge and experience in the Austin real estate market.
Regardless of who you decide to work with in buying a home, it’s important to have someone you can trust and rely on to answer any questions related to home buying.
Take Your Time When Buying a Home in Austin
Many homebuyers feel pressured to snatch up the first property they find, especially when considering Austin’s population boom, but a home is one of the most important investments you will ever make in your life.
As a homebuyer, you need to feel confident about your decision, understand the details of your home loan and other aspects of the home buying process.
By taking the proper steps, from checking your credit score to visiting various neighborhoods, you’re sure to find a home that’s perfect for you as a proud Austinite.