Thinking about buying a house in Seattle? How do you do it?

Buying a house in Seattle, WA can be a fantastic investment. Many haven’t yet had the benefit of doing it. So, how do you get started? What’s the process? What do you need to know?

The Benefits Of Home Buying

There are many benefits when you buy a house.

Some of the benefits of homeownership frequently cited in surveys include higher household incomes and net worth, and even kids performing better at school and enjoying a better quality of life.

It certainly beats renting. You may easily be able to buy a house for less than you are paying in rent each month. Even if you pay a little more, at least money is being put towards you owning the property each month and back into your net worth, versus paying for a property for someone else to own, and providing them the extra income every month.

Home buying also means more control over your housing payments, the freedom to decorate as you choose, not being held ransom by rising rents, and having to move less often, which can save lots of money over the years.

First Things First

The very first thing to do when thinking about home buying is to get pre-qualified for a mortgage loan.

Until you do this, everything else you do and any other time you spend looking at houses can be wasted.

Firstly, it pays to know how much of a mortgage you can get, and if needed what the down payment looks like, as well as what type of monthly payments you can expect.

Equipped with this information, you can then get out there and look at the right houses. Otherwise you may just get disappointed when you can’t afford the house you fell in love with. Or you might get frustrated prematurely by thinking you have to sacrifice for a home for less than you can really afford.

Decide How Much House You Can Afford

You might actually find you can qualify for a lot more house than you thought. Even with a very low down payment or 100% financing.

That doesn’t mean you need to spend or commit to the maximum you are qualified for. Make sure you make your own choice about how much house you can afford. Think about the duration of the time you plan on owning this home. Is your income likely to go up or down during this period? What other expenses may go up or down? What is a good balance between getting a great home that will last you now, and maintaining financial flexibility and freedom for the long run.

Your Home Search

Before heading out on your home search ask your Seattle mortgage broker about how different types of property could affect your financing and costs.

For example, non-warrantable condos versus single family or multifamily homes. Or being downtown versus out in Seattle’s best suburbs.

You can spend a few minutes getting an idea of what may be on the market and what you might expect for your budget online. However, the best listing always move fast. It’s much better to use a Realtor. Especially as a first time home buyer. Ask others for a referral to a great local Seattle Realtor who can help you at every step of the way.

Be sure to have your mortgage pre-qualification handy, as they’ll want to see this before presenting any homes and before sellers will let you inside.

Try to find a balance between what’s really a good financial move and a home that will serve your needs for the period of time you plan to own it. It helps if you make a short list of your top 1-3 needs. If you get a few wants on top of that, it’s extra icing on the cake.

Make An Offer On A Home

Once you’ve found a home you love, it’s smart to make an offer fast. Great properties that are listed at fair prices don’t last long. Being quick with an offer can help avoid multiple bids, competition and bidding war situations.

Leave a little room for negotiating, as everyone always wants to feel they are winning something in the process.

Get the real estate sales and purchase contract signed by all parties as quickly as possible, and make your token earnest money deposit and send you mortgage pre-approval along with your offer.

Complete Your Mortgage Application

Once your house offer is accepted the clock starts ticking. You will likely have a very short timeframe in your contract to make your formal mortgage application.

This is when you also need to provide your lender with any applicable documentation. Such as bank statements, W2s, paystubs, etc.

Once you receive a mortgage commitment the underwriter will list any remaining items needed to close and fund your loan.

Manage The Real Estate Transaction

Getting a contract signed and making your mortgage application is where the home buying process really begins. 

Hopefully you’ve picked a great Seattle mortgage broker. They will help you handle most of this. Just make sure you get back any additional items as soon as possible.

During this phase of the process other items which need to be coordinated, such as:

  • Association approvals
  • Obtaining insurance
  • Title searches
  • Obtaining payoffs for the seller’s mortgage
  • Scheduling the real estate closing
  • Plan Your Move

Don’t forget to plan your move into your new home. It’s smart to leave yourself a little time cushion between having to be out of your old place, and when you expect to be able to have the keys and be able to legally move into your new place.

Get quotes and book moving services early to save the most money. Schedule your utilities to be transferred. Set up your mail to be forwarded.

About the Author

Helping Seattleites buy their dream homes for over 15 years. Founder of Seattle's Mortgage Broker and author of Homeownership Simplified: The Truth about ZERO Down.