How do I start the home buying process in my 30s?
The average age of a first-time home buyer is now 36, according to the National Association of Realtors.
But the process of buying a home can be confusing no matter your age.
The good news? There are some basic steps you can follow to make the process a lot less intimidating. Mortgage expert Ivan Simental walked through his process for buying a home in his 30s on a recent episode of The Mortgage Reports Podcast.
Here’s the step-by-step process he took — and how he says other buyers should go about it, too.
Listen to Ivan on The Mortgage Reports Podcast!
1. Contact a lender or mortgage professional
When Simental was ready to start the process, he connected with a fellow loan officer at the bank where he worked and asked if he was a good candidate to buy a house.
“Sometimes, you might think that you are a year out from buying a house but are actually ready,” Simental said. “Or sometimes, you might think that you’re ready and you’re really not.”
Whichever it is, a loan officer can help you set a roadmap to buy a home. They’ll tell you which loan programs you can qualify for and, by extension, how much money you need to save for your upfront home buying costs.
Your lender can also give you a close estimate of your future mortgage rate and monthly payment. This will give you a much clearer idea of how much house you can afford, and whether now’s a good time financially for you to buy.
2. Get preapproved
Once you’ve followed your loan officer’s roadmap, it’s time to get preapproved for your loan. This is when you’ll fill out a full application, submit financial documentation, and submit to a credit check.
You’ll also pick your loan program, determine your down payment, and get your preapproval letter, which will state how much you can borrow and at what rate.
To give yourself the best shot at winning a home, opt for a fully underwritten preapproval. This requires a deep dive into your finances and documentation, which will give you a more accurate estimate of your loan amount, interest rate, and terms.
Importantly, your preapproval letter also shows sellers that you’re serious about buying and can help speed up the closing process.
“Make sure that you tell your loan officer to get you fully underwritten and approved before you go out to submit offers,” Simental says. “You want to make sure your credit, income, and assets have all been looked at. That will get you that super legit stamp of approval.”
3. Get a real estate agent
Finding a good real estate agent is next. You’ll want to interview several candidates and choose one who’s knowledgeable in your geographic area and who has the bandwidth to take on new clients.
Simental also recommends looking for “somebody who is responsive and communicates the way you like to be talked to — whether that’s via text, email, phone call, snail mail, however you want. Look for that individual that is going to suit your needs.”
4. Shop for a house
After you’ve enlisted an agent, sit down and discuss what you’re looking for in a home and your budget. They can then start sending you listings that meet your needs and can coordinate showings for you to view the homes in person.
“You take a look at the houses that you like, and the next step is to make an offer,” Simental said.
If the seller accepts your offer, you move on to the next step. If they choose a competing offer, it’s back to the drawing board until you find another property and get under contract.
5. Go through loan processing
Once you have an offer accepted, you will need to fulfill the terms of your contract and get your loan processed. Fulfilling your contract terms usually means getting an inspection and having the home appraised.
At the same time, you’ll work with your loan officer to provide any additional information or documentation they might need along the way. That could include additional financial statements or a letter of explanation if any red flags in your loan file need clarification.
“During this time, your loan is getting sent to processing and underwriting,” Simental said. “This whole process usually takes about 30 to 45 days.”
6. Prepare for closing day
Finally, you’ll get your signing day appointment — also called “closing day.”
“This is it. This is happening,” Simental said. “Here, you are going to sign your loan documents, saying that this house is going to be yours, that you are obtaining a home loan, and that you are responsible for the mortgage payment on this property for the next 15, 20, 25, or 30 years — however long you picked your specific loan program.”
Once the paperwork has been signed and your down payment and closing costs paid, the deal will close and you’ll get your keys.
As Simental explained, “You are now an official homeowner.”
Ready to get started?
If you’re ready to start the mortgage loan process? You can get matched with a lender below to begin your home loan approval.