Atlanta has seen remarkable growth in recent years — a combination of a booming job market, an emerging film industry, a mild climate and reasonable home prices in comparison with other major cities. That said, if you are a first-time homebuyer — or if this is your first Atlanta home — you might face a bit of a learning curve as you navigate the sometimes complicated process of buying a home. Here are a few tips to help steer you straight.
First, figure out your finances
Money issues can derail a home-buying process more consistently than any other obstacle, to the point that many sellers today will not take you seriously as a buyer unless you are pre-qualified for a certain size mortgage. Take the time to work out your finances and budget before starting your home search. Check your credit, correct mistakes on your credit report and pay down any excessive debt that could limit you from qualifying for the home you want. Go to a reputable mortgage company and get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a loan so you know going in how much home you can actually afford. This preliminary step goes a long way toward streamlining the process of buying.
Work with a local mortgage broker who understands your needs
Every housing market is unique, so it’s not always enough just to work with a broker who is licensed for loan processing in your state. Try to find a broker with extensive knowledge of the Atlanta housing market, someone with established relationships who can make the loan process easier. If you have unique income streams or difficulty proving your income, some brokers specialize in finding creative solutions for unique situations, as well.
Research first-time buyer assistance programs
Many communities, Atlanta included, have programs designed to help first-time buyers over the unique hurdles they face. Ask your mortgage broker if you qualify for an FHA or VA loan, which can get you into a home for a lower down payment. Home buyer assistance programs like the Georgia Dream Home Ownership Program and others can connect you with special financing, down payment grants and other incentives.
Work with an experienced Atlanta real estate agent
One of the most important things you can do as a first-time Atlanta home buyer is to hire an experienced local agent — one who can provide keen insights on Atlanta’s many neighborhoods, who understands the competitive housing market and who can help match your needs to your perfect dream home. When you are ready to begin your search for your first Atlanta home, we are happy to help. Contact Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty at 404.948.4812; one of our knowledgeable agents would be happy to assist.