In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

"It's highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets."

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding "your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history."

Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

Being pre-approved and ready to pull the trigger when you find and fall in love with your next home is going to help you when shopping in our local market. With the oilfield back on the move we have seen a shift in the local real estate market swiftly to what we call a seller’s market.

A seller’s market occurs when demand exceeds supply, or there are more buyers seeking to purchase properties than there are available homes on the market. This often leads to multiple buyers interested in a single property, resulting in bidding wars. A seller’s market is a fantastic time to sell your home as you could secure a sale price that’s higher than your listing price, or at least more than your bottom line (the lowest price you’d be willing to accept for your home).

If you’re buying a home in a seller’s market, be aware that the seller has the advantage. If other buyers are interested in the same property you’re making an offer on, trying to get a lower sale price probably won’t work to your advantage. In fact, you could lose the opportunity to purchase the property altogether if a competing buyer makes a higher offer. Making it essential to be as prepared as possible to make an offer when you find the home you’re looking for. Talk to your local real estate professional or lender who can help you find out where you are at in the process and can help you make a plan to get where you would like to be.