|Cool DC condo I showed|
I am Harrison, Lindsay's fiance, realtor, and a native Washingtonian with a love for comfortable couches and cool kitchens. When you buy a house you're not guaranteed to have exponential value growth or wealth growth. What IS guaranteed is that you are building more wealth than you ever will renting (currently your rent pays someone else's mortgage). In fact, in DC owning is 34% less than renting.
First and foremost, before you get started on buying a house you need to talk to a realtor. It is their job to help you navigate through each of these points and it's free to you (the people selling the house pay both their realtor AND the buyer's realtor- none of your money goes towards realtors). Talk to friends- who did they use? Research realtors, read reviews of them online, even check Yelp. Interview realtors to figure out if their style matches your's- they are going to help you every step of the way which you can see on this chart (notice there are only two steps you are responsible for- click on it to enlarge):
1. Get Pre-Approved
- This is how you know your purchasing power! This is a vital first step that people often put off but THIS is how you know what your money can get you.
- Your realtor should be able to connect you with an experienced, knowledgeable and helpful lender.
- Income + Credit Score + Savings and Assets + All Your Debts (student loans, other recurring payments) = Your Pre-Approval Rate = How much house you can afford
- If you want a deal on a house you've got to think outside the box. In order to get into your first place you may have to look a little outside the hottest neighborhood downtown, but still has valuable amenities of some kind.
- Up and coming neighborhoods can offer good value and future appreciation potential
- If you are working with a good agent they will be able to capitalize on value and get you what you need
- Be prepared for sticker shock- especially in hot neighborhoods! It's expensive to live next to cool stuff- you know where most of your friends want to live and this is going to cost (if you're in DC the hottest neighborhoods for millennials were Columbia Heights and Chinatown- check out this Washington Post interactive graphic showing where millennials are buying.)
- This is one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make (and the biggest check you've written)- it's important to have others involved!
- If you know someone who recently bought a house talk to them about their experience
- Do this early so you aren't scrambling at the last second to get advice/money/opinions from important people- it could slow you down when it's time to put in an offer
- There are tons of great mobile apps to do your own research (Zillow, Redfin, Trulia ) but the important information on those sites is not always up-to-date.
- A benefit of working with a realtor is confirming that information is accurate, and having someone help you sift through the junk that is out there.
- As millennials we are used to having our decisions validated and being coddled every step of the way (fifth place trophies anyone? I know, I'm one too). A good realtor will get you the information you need in a timely fashion, and in an aggressive seller's market (like we have now in DC) you need to be ready to trust your gut, your heart, your wallet and your instincts.
- Remember: In the long run, when you buy real estate, you're saving money and giving yourself the opportunity to build more wealth as compared to renting!
Check out the cool houses and condos I show in DC on Instagram
Here are a few other amazing DC homes I've shown & sold recently:
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