Buying a Home in Oklahoma: Tips and Tricks

Looking to buy a home in Oklahoma? Read this comprehensive guide so you can buy your dream home in Oklahoma.

Selling Your Home
November 12, 2023
Buying a Home in Oklahoma: Tips and Tricks

Buying a home in Oklahoma –– like anywhere in the U.S. –– isn’t quite as simple as it used to be. Interest rates have fluctuated wildly over the last few years, as have home prices, making it difficult to strike at the right time (or even know when the so-called “right time” might be.) To make matters worse, housing demand far outweighs the current supply, resulting in a housing shortage that has driven competition skyward and made at-or-below-asking-price sales an absolute rarity.1  

All this is to say: Buying a home in Oklahoma isn’t impossible. It just requires a bit of strategic thinking, open-mindedness, and patience. Discover tried-and-true tactics for finding your forever home in The Sooner State –– and one simple strategy should you choose to wait out the interest rate. 

Choosing the Ideal Location

To kick off the search for your next home, you should start pinpointing the right location. And while Oklahoma may not be one of the biggest states in the country, with its nearly 70,000 square miles of land, there are many locations to choose from. What’s more, these locations all feature diverse landscapes, communities, and lifestyles, making it all the more worthwhile that you find the one that’s best for you. As you search, leverage the below strategies to guide your decision. 

Define Your Priorities

To end up in the home of your dreams, the first step of your Oklahoma house hunt should be to list your priorities. When determining where you want to be, you’ll want to consider factors like proximity to work, schools, or other amenities– including the state’s many parks and wildlife refuges, for all the outdoor types out there. This will help narrow your search, ensuring any potential neighborhoods meet your core criteria. 

Research Neighborhoods

With your priorities established, you can begin researching potential neighborhoods in greater detail. Oklahoma’s regions are diverse, lively, and distinct, offering something for just about everyone. For those searching for city life, many neighborhoods in major metros like Oklahoma City and Tulsa blend downtown living with suburban serenity. A house buyer looking for a true small-town feel, however, may be more inclined toward Bartlesville for its historic charm. 

As you research these neighborhoods, lean on online forums and real estate websites –– carefully examining things like crime rates, school ratings, and future residential or urban development plans from the perspectives of existing residents and local professionals.  

Visit Potential Areas

While advice from strangers online might be enough to help you determine if an Oklahoma neighborhood is worth a day trip, you’ll want to put boots on the ground to determine if a place has the makings of a future home. Take the time to visit the areas you're interested in, wander their streets, visit local businesses, and get a feel for the community. If you can’t envision yourself living there after soaking it all in, mark it off your list and move on to the next! 

Consider Future Growth

In 2023, Oklahoma has one of the fastest-growing economies in the U.S., and growth is the general theme for much of the state.2 The increase in both jobs and population is undoubtedly changing the state, and some areas you’re interested in may be dramatically altered by this growth. As you search for an ideal location, investigate the potential for growth and development in the chosen area –– as this evolution may positively impact both your quality of life and your property’s value in the coming years. 

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Planning Your Down Payment and Closing Costs

With interest rates sitting comfortably at historic highs, the home buyer has an added incentive to put as much down as possible. Of course, saving up enough money on a $200,000 home, the average cost of a new home in Oklahoma can require careful planning and preparation.3 Here’s how to plan for your down payment –– and navigate additional associated costs:

1. Set a Realistic Budget: First things first, you’ll want to assess your financial situation and establish a realistic budget. This should factor in not just the home’s purchase price but also potential ongoing homeownership costs like property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.

2. Start Saving Early: The sooner you start saving, the better. Conventional wisdom says your down payment should be at least 20% of the home’s total purchase price, although many lenders will approve a loan with less. To lessen the financial burden, build your downpayment into your savings plan and gradually chip away at this goal. 

3. Explore Government Assistance: In Oklahoma, there are several government programs designed to help a home buyer cover the cost of a downpayment. The Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency, for example, offers downpayment support to first-time and repeat buyers across the entire state.4 This program is just one of many, so do your research to find the support you need. 

4. Understand Closing Costs: One hefty expense many home buyers fail to consider is closing costs. These include fees for appraisals, inspections, title insurance, and more, and knowing what to expect will help you avoid an unexpected financial burden. 

Between your downpayment and your closing costs, buying a home in Oklahoma comes at a price. But the better prepared you are for these expenses, the easier your homebuying process will be. 

Searching for the Best Mortgage Rates

Securing an affordable mortgage rate is a crucial step in the home buying process –– in Oklahoma, or anywhere. Once you’ve checked your other boxes, follow these tips to find the best mortgage rates in Oklahoma:

1. Know (and Boost) Your Credit Score: Your credit score can be the determining factor in getting a favorable mortgage loan rate, either conveying to lenders that you’re a safe bet or too much of a risk. Review your full credit report, address any discrepancies, and work on rebuilding your credit if needed to ensure you get the best mortgage rate possible. 

2. Shop Around for Lenders: Being a smart consumer means shopping around to ensure you get the most favorable rate. While the first mortgage offer you receive may end up being the best one, be sure to explore different lenders and types of lenders –– including banks and credit unions –– to increase your chance of approval and secure the most competitive rate.

3. Consider Mortgage Types: There are various types of mortgages available, and each may benefit you in different ways. Understand the differences between these mortgages, such as fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages, and choose the one that best aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

4. Negotiate Terms: Just like you shouldn’t accept the first mortgage rate you receive, you should also negotiate with lenders to secure more favorable terms. Things like interest rates, loan duration, and associated fees may be up for discussion –– and over a 15- or 30-year term, a little negotiation may go a long way.

Find Your Dream Home and Make an Offer

Once you've laid the groundwork –– exploring neighborhoods, compiling your downpayment, and attaining the best mortgage rate –– it's time to find your dream home and make a compelling offer. The hard work is from over, however, and these tips will help smooth the process of buying a home in Oklahoma. 

Work with a Realtor

Despite scrolling real estate websites for hours on end, some homebuyers still might not find their dream home. Enlisting the services of a qualified real estate agent can make all the difference, as their expertise can streamline the search process –– providing valuable insights into market trends and property values –– and even identify off-market homes that are your perfect match. 

Attend Open Houses

Just like visiting potential neighborhoods can help you determine if a place is liveable, attending open houses can give you a better feel for a potential home. As you imbibe in free snacks and refreshments, pay attention to details like the property’s condition, the vibe of the neighborhood, and amenities that may not have been included in the online listing.

Make a Competitive Offer

In today’s highly competitive market, if you see something you like you should be prepared to make a strong and competitive offer –– fast. If you choose to enlist the help of a professional, your real estate agent can help you determine an appropriate offer based on comparable sales and current market conditions, ensuring your dream home doesn’t slip through your fingers. 

Include Contingencies

While some buyers are making non-contingent offers to appeal to sellers, the risks of this approach tend to outweigh the rewards.5 When you make your offer, protect your interests by including contingencies. These clauses will ensure you can renegotiate or withdraw your offer and get your money back should any issues arise during your home inspection. 

Schedule Your Inspection

Buying a home in Oklahoma is a major commitment, and you’ll want to be sure your investment is sound. A professional home inspection will reassure your lender and reassure you that your new home will live up to your expectations. This is a simple process, but you’ll still want to be sure you do all you can to get the most out of the inspection. 

  • Hire a Qualified Inspector: Home inspectors are in high demand, and it may take a while to get a professional to come visit your property. Still, you’ll want to be sure that you choose a certified home inspector with a solid reputation –– even if it takes longer.
  • Attend the Inspection: Without overstepping your boundaries, do your best to attend the inspection. Your presence will allow you to ask questions, gaining a better understanding of the property's condition while addressing any concerns in the moment. 
  • Review the Inspection Report: After your home inspection, you’ll be provided with an in-depth report of any findings. It’s crucial that you carefully review the inspection report, identify any issues, and discuss them with your real estate agent. From there, you can determine the best course of action as a team –– whether it's renegotiating the purchase price or moving on altogether.

Oklahoma Home Buying Checklist

As you arrive at the final stages of the Oklahoma homebuying process, use this checklist to ensure your transaction is neatly wrapped with a bow –– so you can go confidently into your life in your new home. 

  • Secure Financing: Finalize your mortgage loan approval and make sure all necessary documentation is in order.
  • Coordinate with Your Realtor: Your real estate agent will guide you through the final steps and address any last-minute concerns, making it crucial to keep an open communication line through this process.
  • Complete Final Walk-Through: Conducting a final walk-through of the property helps ensure it's in the agreed-upon condition. This will be your last chance to identify any issues before signing on the dotted line at the closing.
  • Attend Closing: Come fully prepared for your closing. Here, you’ll review all documents, ask questions if needed, and sign any necessary paperwork to officially become a homeowner.

After you’ve completed the above tasks, there’s one last item to check off your homebuying checklist: celebrate! Buying a home in Oklahoma is a major accomplishment, and now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. 

Buying a Home in Oklahoma: Closing Thoughts

Given The Sooner State’s abundant natural beauty and consistent year-over-year growth, now is an exciting time to buy a home in Oklahoma. But for some, the elevated interest rates may simply be too much of an obstacle. Still, buying a home in Oklahoma doesn’t have to be a “never” thing –– just maybe a “not now.” 

Exploring avenues on how to sell your own home in Oklahoma? Truehold’s Oklahoma City sale-leaseback can help, whether you want to free up your home equity to make a compelling cash offer or become a renter for its added agility. By selling your home to Truehold, you can access your home equity while continuing to live in your home as a renter. That way, when the home of your dreams becomes available, and the interest rate can enter a palatable range, you can leap at your perfect spot. This allows you to avoid traditional housing and sell your home at a competitive price. 

Want to learn more? Reach out to one of our Oklahoma City or Tulsa advisors, and get an offer on your home within 48 hours. 

Sources:

1. Bankrate. Why is housing inventory so low? Understanding the U.S. housing shortage. https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/low-inventory-housing-shortage/ 

2. Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Oklahoma Among Fastest Growing Economies in U.S. https://www.okcommerce.gov/oklahoma-among-fastest-growing-economies-in-the-u-s/ 

3. Zillow. Oklahoma Home Values. https://www.zillow.com/home-values/45/ok/ 

4. Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency. Downpayment Assistance. https://www.ohfa.org/homebuyers/downpayment/ 

5. Rocket Homes. Should You Make a Clean, No-Contingency Offer? https://www.rockethomes.com/blog/home-buying/no-contingency 

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