Ringing in the New Year with a New House in Dallas12/15/2017 If you're wishing Santa leaves a new home under the tree in Dallas, now is a great time to get prepared for what happens next--once he is up the chimney you are on your own for mortgages and moving. Even if you've owned a residence previously, it is not a bad thought to freshen up on your home buying and moving skills so when the time comes, you navigate it like a professional. Financial Check-Up in Dallas First, get your finances in order. Unless you're paying cash for a home, you will need to have a mortgage. While mortgage lending rules have loosened some recently, you will still want to have all your money matters straightened out and tidy before you sit down with a loan officer (even a virtual one). Get a copy of your credit report to make sure you have not been a victim of identity theft, and confirm all your bills have been paid in a timely fashion. If you see something that doesn't seem right, contact the credit reporting agency to report erroneous information. It's definitely a great idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. In some regions of the country the real estate market never slows down, and you need to be ready to make an offer on a home when you find it. These days, a lot of sellers will not even acknowledge an offer without a pre-approval from a lender. Do not muddle up a pre-approval and a pre-qualification; the pre-approval says that your credit and income are already okay--sometimes already underwritten--with the lender, you just need to find a house. A pre-qualification says that they perused your credit report and if all other factors line up then they'll consider a loan. I Want.... You want everything in a new house—the best schools, outdoor kitchen, open floor plan, modern landscaping, privacy, friendly neighbors, and low real estate taxes. It is likely that you're going to have to make a few adjustments somewhere, so proceed and make your wants list and your needs list, and see where the two intersect. Regardless of your budget you are not going to get everything you want, so focus on your needs. If you need to be in a certain school district, or you need to be within a certain mileage of the airport, or you have five kids and need five bedrooms, those non-negotiables must be at the top of your list. House-hunting is the ultimate Goldilocks experience, so don't even bother with residences that are too large or tiny, too far off the beaten track, or out of your price range. It should go without saying, but needs to be said anyway, that your family must be on the same page with the needs and the wants. If you want a large yard and your spouse would be happy with a high-rise, work out those little details before your realtor turns into a marriage counselor. A Great Real Estate Agent in Dallas A good real estate agent is not the one who is a "million-dollar producer" (this could mean she sold ten houses in ten years) or whose face is all over billboards. A great realtor is the one that you feel like you can develop a solid working relationship with--after all, you're going to be spending a lot of time together, and she will be acting on your behalf in a large financial transaction. Look for someone who's easy to talk to, that you can trust, and who really listens to what you're saying--if your limit is $350,000, she should respect that. Your task when you are interviewing realtors is to be honest about your budget and your expectations. If you've been pre-approved for $600,000, don't misuse your time or your realtor's looking at houses in the $700,000s. If you're relocating and have one weekend to house hunt, make arrangements so that your realtor has blocked out the time just for you. The internet makes house hunting less difficult, you may find yourself falling in love and making an offer sight unseen. In that event, ask Santa to put some boxes in your stocking.