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How to Build Your Homebuying Team this Fall

By Mark Kunzer, Manager, Business Development Mortgage Originations, ESL Federal Credit Union

The Competitive Market Continues

Earlier this spring, our Mortgage Lending team outlined the current state of the Greater Rochester housing market. A home shortage continues to drive up the price and competition on many properties in the local area, putting a particular strain on first-time homebuyers.

Overall homebuyer sentiment in July remained near its highest reported level, and 2018 continues to trend higher than any of the previous five years. Last quarter, the median sales price in Monroe County rose nearly 10 percent to more than $150,000.

Now’s the Time to Prepare

New data from Fannie Mae suggests that homebuyer confidence going into the fall season may finally be plateauing. The fall and winter seasons are typically calmer—with fewer buys and decreased competition. Now is the ideal time for homebuyers to prepare themselves to enter the busy housing market. Here’s how to assemble your team of local experts to navigate the home buying process from start to finish:

The Lender

Before browsing listing sites, consider a prequalification conversation with a mortgage lender as one of the first items on your list. This can help you identify and overcome any potential obstacles early on and ensure you’re well prepared to begin your home search.

During that conversation, you’ll learn that overcoming that first hurdle—saving for a down payment—has become easier in the past few years. Saving 20% for a down payment is no longer a hard-and-fast requirement for many lenders. In fact, several financing options ease the challenges around saving for a down payment and closing costs.

The Realtor

Be sure to connect with an experienced local realtor, someone who is knowledgeable, patient, and suitable for your needs. Don’t hesitate to ask your realtor a few questions before you commit, as they’ll be alongside you throughout much of the process. It’s vital to find someone you’re comfortable with.

The Attorney

Secure a real estate attorney who will review any offers you submit and guide you through the closing process. Your lender or realtor can offer suggestions as to whom they’ve worked with and who knows the Rochester market.

The Home Inspector/Engineer

After you’ve submitted an offer, a home inspector or engineer should look at the property and identify any potential issues that need to be addressed, such as:

  • How long might the roof last?
  • Is there old knob-and-tube wiring?
  • How is the foundation holding up over time?
  • Is there any aluminum wiring that could cause a fire hazard?

This inspection may cost a few hundred dollars, but will save you from having unexpected headaches down the road. Buying a home is too big of an investment to forgo this crucial step.

Overall, the homebuying process from start to finish can feel overwhelming. While the market continues to be tight, being prepared, being patient, and having experts beside you will eventually pay off.