Ringing in the New Year with a New House in Little Rock12/15/2017 If you're hoping Santa deposits a new abode under the tree in Little Rock, now is a great time to get prepared for what happens next--once he's up the chimney you're alone for mortgages and moving. Even if you have bought a residence before, it's not a bad idea 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're paying cash for a residence, you will need to have a mortgage. While mortgage lending rules have slackened a bit recently, you'll still need to have all your ecomonic matters straightened out and tidy before you discuss anything with a loan officer (even a virtual one). Request a copy of your credit report to make certain you haven't been a victim of identity theft, and make sure all your bills have been paid on time. If you see something that doesn't seem true, contact the credit reporting agency to report erroneous information. It is definitely a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage. In some areas of the country the real estate market never slows down, and you want to be ready to submit an offer on a house when you discover it. Currently, a large number of sellers will not even consider an offer without a pre-approval from a lender. Don't mix 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 home. A pre-qualification says that they looked through your credit report and if all other factors line up then they will consider a loan. I Want.... You want it all in your new house—the best schools, outdoor kitchen, open floor plan, modern landscaping, privacy, friendly neighbors, and low real estate taxes. Chances are you are going to need to make a few concessions somewhere, so start and make your wants list and your needs list, and look at where the two intersect. Regardless of your budget you're not going to get all of the things that you want, so pay closest attention to 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 should 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 small, 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 significant other needs to agree 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 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 could 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 are going to be spending a lot of time together, and she will be acting on your behalf in a large financial transaction. Find 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're interviewing realtors is to be upfront about your budget and your expectations. If you've been pre-approved for $600,000, do not 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 under the tree.