The must-do's of starting the home buying process

This week, we have been looking at the housing market across central Nebraska, showing what you can buy for the state's average listing price of $155,000.

Now, we are breaking down the nitty–gritty must–do's for starting the home–buying process.

The realtors say determining your budget is the first step you will want to take when starting the home buying process.

"Just make sure you can find out the houses you can afford," said Century 21 Da-Ly Realty owner, broker Jeff Reed.

Jeff Reed's number one tip?

"Oh, I say the number one tip is to go to your lender first and get pre–qualified," said Reed.

"We no longer go on just how much money you make and what your bills are," said Coldwell Banker Town and Country Realty of Kearney, owner Betty Warren. "They go on credit scores. So, you need to go and visit with your local banker. I can't emphasize local enough, and see what you qualify for."

If you don't qualify, the local bank, still, may be able to help.

"If you go to a good banker they will tell you how to correct your credit score and what you need to do in order to be able to buy that home," Warren said.

Another thing experts say to consider, if you're looking to buy a home in a small town, you may qualify for a Rural Development loan.

"You can borrow 100% of the purchase price," said Rhynalds Auction & Realty realtor, Rusty Rhynalds. "So, your down payment getting a home loan is a lot less in our smaller rural communities in Nebraska."

After getting pre–approved, they say finding a good realtor is the next step.

"I think it's important that you find a realtor who can help you out and guide you along the ups and downs of purchasing your new home," said Reed.

If you're looking at homes online, local realtors say be wary of bogus websites.

"They do not have the correct information," said Warren. "All they are trying to do is get information from you so they can sell them to a realtor."

They say many of these sites are outdated.

"Last week somebody called and asked me about a house," said Warren. "That house had been sold for three years, and it was showing up on another website, a well–known website, but it was not correct."

Betty says some sites try to get personal financial information.

"Be careful of what you're looking at and what you're doing online," Warren said. "Don't just go in and apply for a loan online, just to see what happens. It doesn't always happen the way you want it to."

So, whether your pre–approved budget is big or small, use caution when shopping for a home online and remember to look in different towns and cities to ensure you're finding the perfect location and house for you.

If you missed the first two segments of this series, you can find the Tri-Cities Special Report here, or the Home Buying in a Rurual Community Special Report here.

To follow the special report, and all her local news coverage, you can follow Jessica Stevenson on twitter and facebook.

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