Ringing in the New Year with a New House in Little Rock12/15/2017 If you are wishing Santa leaves a new home under the tree in Little Rock, now is a good time to get ready for what happens next--once he is up the chimney you are by yourself for mortgages and moving. Even if you've purchased a home before, it is not a bad thought to brush up on your home buying and moving skills so when the time comes, you navigate it like a pro. Financial Check-Up in Little Rock First, get your finances in order. Unless you are paying cash for a home, you'll require a mortgage. While mortgage lending rules have loosened a little recently, you will still need to have all your ecomonic matters organized and tidy before you discuss anything with a loan officer (even a virtual one). Get a copy of your credit report to make certain you have not been a victim of identity theft, and double check that all your bills have been paid by their due date. If you see something that does not look right, contact the credit reporting agency to report erroneous information. It's always a grand idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. In some parts of the country the real estate market never slows down, and you should be ready to present an offer on a residence when you find it. These days, a lot of sellers won’t even look at an offer without a pre-approval from a lender. Do not mix up a pre-approval and a pre-qualification; the pre-approval reflects that your credit and income are already okay--sometimes already underwritten--with the lender, you just need to find a home. A pre-qualification says that they looked at your credit report and if all other factors check out then they'll consider a loan. I Want.... You want it all in a new house—outstanding schools, outdoor kitchen, open floor plan, mature landscaping, privacy, fabulous neighbors, and low real estate taxes. Most likely you are going to need to make some concessions somewhere, so proceed and assemble your wants list and your needs list, and look at where the two intersect. Regardless of your budget you are not going to get all of the things that you want, so concentrate on your needs. If you need to be in a specific school district, or you need to be within a radius of the airport, or you have five kids and need as many bedrooms, those non-negotiables need to be at the top of your list. House-hunting is the ultimate Goldilocks experience, so don't even bother with homes that are too big 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 needs to be on the same page with the needs and the wants. If you want a swimming pool in the yard and your spouse would be happy with a high-rise, work out those little details before your realtor turns into a mediator. A Great Real Estate Agent in Little Rock A wonderful real estate agent is not the one who is a "million-dollar producer" (this might mean she sold ten houses in ten years) or whose ads are all over billboards. A great realtor is the one that you feel like you can develop a comfortable working relationship with--after all, you're going to be spending a lot of time together, and she will be helping you through a large financial transaction. Pick someone who's easy to talk to, that you can trust, and who really listens to what you are saying--if your limit is $350,000, she should respect that. Your job when you are interviewing realtors is to be upfront about your budget and your expectations. If you've been pre-approved for $600,000, don't misuse your time or your realtor's searching for 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 might find yourself falling in love and making an offer sight unseen. In that case, ask Santa to put some boxes under the tree.