How to go from being a Tenant to being a Home Buyer in Austin

money houseThe transition from leasing an apartment or house to buying a permanent residence can be tricky.  It’s often a careful dance in terms of the timeline, so planning is key.  The first thing I ask a buyer is when the lease is up or due to renew.  If a buyer is calling six months in advance my approach is often to have a lender be contacted so that monthly payments and overall affordability can be established.  If a buyer has never owned a home before, budgeting for taxes, HOA fees and often utility bills are often new considerations.  The second question I ask potential buyers is how much notice needs to be given to the existing landlord.  Often, tenants don’t always know how much notice is required which is typically in the existing lease.  Required notifications can vary greatly.  I have seen anywhere from 30 to 60 days and sometimes there is leeway even if the lease has hard terms.  If there is a waiting list to get into an apartment complex the timeline typically stands, but if there isn’t and there are already vacancies available, a landlord may allow for a tenant to transition to a month to month lease or even week to week.  Like anything else, it is all about communication, so having that conversation early on (and in writing) will help with the plan to keep a roof over a buyer’s head during the process.

It may take time to find a home in Austin

Once the timeline is established and a lender is contacted, I typically create a custom home search to start reviewing inventory.  With time on a buyer’s side, they have the ability to start looking casually at what they can expect for their money.  When the planning is early, it is not too late to just keep renting or expand the location criteria to start seeing homes that meet with a client’s expectations.  The Austin Real Estate Market is very low on inventory right now, so it often takes some time for homes that meet that criteria to even come on the market.  Even when that ideal home comes on the market, it would be hard to get a seller to accept a contract with it is more than 45 days to the closing date.  Houses are selling and if an owner has their house on the market, they generally want to sell it as soon as possible, so they typically won’t wait 2 or 3 months when they can get an offer that can close in 30 days.

Transitioning from leasing to buying in Austin can be a careful dance when managing the timeline

The time to start physically looking at places to purchase in the greater Austin area is when you are about 60 days out from the end of your lease.  A buyer is not going to like every home they see, but they also need to be in a position to write an offer for a 30 – 45 day close in order to get it accepted.  Like I said, it is a careful dance, but with proper planning a buyer won’t feel rushed and won’t be homeless either.