One of the more common questions I get asked as a Realtor is "when should I start looking?" It's a good question because the answer is usually "it depends" and then I get to throw out stats and make myself look smart.
The biggest variable it depends on is obviously when you're planning on moving. If you're a renter then you probably want to time the closing to be at the same time your lease ends. If you're a home owner and you're selling your home to finance the purchase of your new home, then it all depends on when your first home sells and closes (we'll get more into that in a bit).
Another variable is where you'd like to move to. If you're planning on moving to Chapel Hill where there is more inventory, then there is a good chance you'll be able to find a home you like fairly quickly and have your offer accepted. In a more competitive market like Apex, Holly Springs, or parts of Durham, there isn't much to choose from so we could go out several times to find a home and then **NON-HGTV SPOILER ALERT** the home could have multiple offers and you could get outbid by a developer or someone with tons of cash*. Then the process starts all over again.
In other words, if you're looking in a red-hot market, so are a lot of other people. Expect it to take some time.
*Disclaimer: I won't let you pay too much for a home. For starters, it has to appraise if you're getting a loan, and I'm always looking out for my client's best interests anyway.
For argument's sake, let's say you're looking in Chapel Hill and plan to move April 1. Talk to some lenders in early January and shop around for the best interest rate. Remember: you can have three mortgage lenders check your credit per month and it counts as one inquiry so you might as well shop around.
After you've picked a lender, give me a call and we can set up a meeting. Bring your "pre-qualification letter" so we all know what your budget is and we can discuss what neighborhoods you might be interested in. We could even go out and tour some homes, but the big uptick in inventory doesn't really happen until late-February or early-March so you might not find your perfect home.
Don't get discouraged! It might take us a couple of weekends of looking at several houses each. This isn't House Hunters. You can look at more than three houses before you make up your mind!
Once you do find that perfect home and want to move forward with writing an offer, it's a painless process. Once all the haggling and negotiating is done it's usually 30-45 days to close. During that time you're working with your mortgage lender to get all your documentation together and we're working together on inspections and appraisals.
So, how does that look on a timeline?
Could these dates shift? Of course.
Would these dates shift? Probably. Everything is negotiable and my job is to help you get that home you want. If that means the sellers want to close on March 15 and they won't budge then we'd adjust accordingly. If they need more time to move out and can't close until April 21 then that's what has to happen.
It's not TV, it's real estate. Things happen. Hair gets frazzled. Teeth get gnashed. When you get the keys though, it's all a distant memory (if I did my job right).
It's never too early to give me a call though! Have questions on a particular home or neighborhood? Need some lender references? Text, call, or email!