OK....it's officially here! 2011 is not just a number for realtors and lenders, but it's a huge opportunity for consumers. But there are so many consumers who are unprepared or who just don't know where to start. For buyers, here's what you need to know:
- Before you do anything, meet with a licensed loan officer. Yes, that person needs to be licensed. Check out an earlier post Let's work with someone who doesn't have a license......NOT!!!!!!. Before you even meet with the individual, ask if they're licensed. Believe it or not the Fed has said that some folks can lend you hundreds of thousands of dollars at their terms without being licensed. Can you imagine any realtor being allowed to not have a license?
- Meet with the loan officer - to determine what's right for your situation. Did you know that FHA has some monster changes for condominiums? Did you know that both Fannie and Freddie are making some very costly changes to the way they price a ton of there loans? How will your income and credit affect the rate that you may or may not be able to get? I just met with a guy and he's getting his credit scores up by the end of January so that he won't be penalized under the new rules. Right now.....TIME IS YOUR ALLY!
- Get your income information together. If you're self-employed this is even more critical than for those who aren't. But if you get bonus income, commission income, or whatever, know how the Fed is going to look at your income and that of your spouse if you're buying with one.
- Assets - Let's take a look at your asset situation. Cash is not king! If you have money we need to document it. If it's under your mattress or in a safety deposit box, then it's no good! But again, time is your ally! Meet with the licensed loan officer.
- Get with a REAL realtor! What does that mean? It means get with someone who's doing this as a profession, not as a side job. Not as someone who's moonlighting to pick up a few extra bucks. After you meet with your licensed loan officer, have them refer you to someone who's known in your community for really working for their clients. They have to be knowledgeable. So many folks work with their neighbor who has a license. That's OK if the realtor is serious about this business and has demonstrated a history of success in this business. If not, run for the hills!