The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Which comes first: the chicken or the CLA?

So maybe you’re thinking about looking at buying a house. Nothing definite, nothing for sure; you don’t even know if you could find something good enough to make it worth all the hassle of selling your house and moving. Your first step is to check out what’s out there, right? Get a Realtor and look around a bit? Wrong. The problem with this line of reasoning, is that the purpose is to find your beautiful, perfectly priced, perfectly located dream home, right? So then what if you find it? What if that very first day you come upon a house that you absolutely can’t live without? Then what is the next step?

With the market moving so quickly like it currently is, if there is a great house out there, and it’s well priced, it definitely won’t stay out there long. When we bought our house almost three years ago, I went and saw the house on a Wednesday, Jason couldn’t get in to see it until Thursday and we didn’t actually make an offer until Friday. Today, the house would likely be long gone. If you find your dream house, you want to make an offer then and there.

When you make an offer on a house right now, you need to have three things: a signed contract offer, a check for one to two percent of the price you are offering for the house (this is your earnest money) and a CLA. I’m sure you’re familiar with the first two necessities, but the CLA may be new. A CLA is a conditional loan approval. It’s basically just a form from a bank or other lending institution that proves to the seller of the home that you’ve been pre-approved for a loan to buy the house. It firms up your offer and makes you a more solid candidate.

A CLA is very easy to obtain. If you already own a home and have a mortgage on it, you can call your current lender and explain to them you’re thinking of home searching. They don’t want to lose your business and will happily help you out. CENTURY 21 Arizona Foothills partners with Hamilton Mortgage. The loan officer who works in my office is named Matt Puzz, and he is very nice and knowledgeable. You can call him at 480.838.7900. You can also call the bank you have your checking and savings account at; they also would be happy to keep your business.

Don’t worry that you need to find the best interest rates or closing costs when you get your CLA. Just because you’ve been approved by a bank to get the loan does not mean that you have to use them to get your loan. You are not locking yourself into anything, just letting them know that there is at least one lending institution that will loan you the money to buy the home. And generally, CLA forms are good for about six months. So do it now, before you need it, and save yourself the last minute worry and hassle of getting one together to send in with your offer.

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