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5 Steps to Owning your First Home

Purchasing your first home can be intimidating, but the process is much easier than it looks. The most important step is the first one.

1. Creating your Team

Owning a home is probably the biggest investment you'll ever make, so it pays to call in trusted experts. Begin building your team by first finding a professional full-time Realtor and a loan officer.

A professional, full-time Realtor will represent you and your interests during the home-ownership process.  The good news is their commissions are generally paid by the seller.  Meaning, as the buyer, these essential services are free. It's important to find a professional full-time agent you relate to and trust and who has your best interests in mind.

Once you find a full-time Realtor (Start with Locations, we currently have over 250 of Hawaii's best-prepared, professional full-time agents who are experts on all our unique Island Neighborhoods).  The next step is finding a loan officer – your Locations agent can assist you with that.  

2. Get Pre-qualified Early

Getting pre-qualified is the first and one of the most important steps on your journey to home ownership.  Before browsing available properties meet with a lender.  You can talk to the loan officer on the phone, however it’s better to meet in person and talk story a little to get to know each other.

Once you’ve found a lender you like and trust, the next step is to talk numbers. The loan officer will ask you a few questions about your income and your expenses to determine how much of a home you are comfortable owning.  Don’t waste time and energy looking at homes that are not in your comfort zone.

Discover how much you are comfortable spending monthly.  This will narrow your search to specific areas and housing types, saving you countless hours in the long run.  

If you skip this step, you set yourself up for frustration later on. Remember, at this point you only want to get an idea of your borrowing power, you're not making any commitments to borrow from any particular lender.  Shopping for the very best loan terms will happen later in the process.

3. Clean Up Your Credit Report

Part of getting pre-qualified will include a review of your credit report. If your score comes in low, you may not qualify for the lowest interest rates available.  The loan officer will advise you what you can do to improve your score.

4. Gather All Your Financial Documents

In some cases, you might be able to pre-qualify for a loan without these documents, however it’s best to have them handy.

Typically, you will need to provide the loan with:

  • 2 months of pay stubs
  • 2 months of bank statements
  • Previous 2 years of tax returns

If you don't have these items readily available, now is a great time to start gathering them.

5. Start Your Search Online

Use Locations powerful real estate search to get started!  Download our mobile app or search on our website to get free access to the most comprehensive real estate search in Hawaii.  We offer not only all the “active” listings around the island and in the state, but “sold” and “pending" properties as well.

With all the property listings at your fingertips, you can take the dollar amount the loan officer gave you and view everything on the Island at or below that price. You might be surprised at all you have to choose from.