What's your number?

You may not know real estate agents are a sales marketers dream. I bet I get at least three calls a day from someone wanting to sell me something, or sell something to my clients. There is one nice thing about that, lenders. :) They like to take us to lunch! While it's nice to know the people behind the transactions it's also our chance to hear the latest lending news. Every single bank offers something different, it's why we encourage you to shop around.

Recently, at lunch with Stephanie Davis of Meritrust Credit Union, I asked her how Wichita home buyers should be preparing for the busy spring season ahead. Here's her three top tips.....if you're looking to buy make sure you.....

1) Get Pre-approved. Stephanie warns, "Don't be looking at your Credit Karma score and think you are good to go." She is rarely surprised when a buyer comes in and says yeah, my credit is awesome it's a 650, I just checked........and in fact it's a 580. Let the lender do their job.......and counsel you if your score isn't good enough. I've seen deals fall through because people paid off bills to raise their score when what the lender really needed to see was more money in the BANK. Every transaction needs certain ratios, I don't KNOW what the ratios are, I couldn't keep track if you paid me (that's why I'm not in banking.) Talk to your lender, show them the money, FIRST.

2) Make a new budget (of course you would expect that from the numbers lady wouldn't you?) I know from experience most people (myself included) really only want to know our number.! "Okay, lovely lender how much do I qualify for?" But, Stephanie reminds us, that's not the most important number." Just because you qualify for a home that requires a $2,000 a month house payment, doesn't mean you can AFFORD it." Example, if you are paying $1,300 a month right now, where is the extra $700 a month going to come from? Don't just know your number, take a look at all of your numbers. See what the budget looks like with the house, and some of the extra expenses you should expect before you shop, so you don't fall in love with a house that will suck you dry. (My words, not hers.)

3) (This one sounds like I told her to say it, I DIDN'T). Stephanie says having worked with those who come in a for a quick "For sale by owner" transaction, she's seen the pitfalls of not picking a knowledgeable realtor, especially for first-time homebuyers. "What happens when the termite inspection finds termites, who is gonna pay for termite treatment?" Steph went on to say, "How about the title fees?" An real estate agent knows transactions inside and out, and doesn't just negotiate sales price, she problem solves all the way to the closing table.

So really it's more than, "what's my number?" If you don't have a realtor, you also need the NAME of one! Try Anita Cochran :) (Man, I was not letting that one slip by.)

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