Looking to buy a home? Here are some essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.
KNOW WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD!
How much money do you have available for the down payment investment, and how much money you can borrow? Unless you’re paying all cash for your property, meeting with a qualified mortgage professional is essential. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL.
While the internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better off using a professional real estate agent than going it alone.
HAVE YOUR PRE-APPROVAL LETTER READY.
Your mortgage broker should provide you with a pre-approval for a loan so that you will be a solid buyer when you make that offer. This pre-approval is essential – no seller will take you seriously without one. If you don’t already know a seasoned, local lending professional, contact me, or check my preferred mortgage lender referral list. I will put you in touch with the best I know.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
Before making a bid, do some research to determine the state of the market at large. Is it a buyers or sellers market? Next, look at sales trends of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Look at prices for the last few months. Come up with an asking price that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off the seller.
In this market, the list price is generally not the selling price. That house around the corner may have come on the market at $599,000, but odds are good that’s not what it sold for. When you work with me, I will fill you in on what any property sold for and offer opinions on the value of properties that are currently available.
TELL ME HOW YOU WANT IT.
Make a list of which items are ‘must haves’ and which items are ‘not required.’
“Must haves” are usually things like parking, a yard, a family room, or a particular neighborhood. “Not required” items might be a pool, an office, or a full fledged chef’s kitchen. Keep in mind that limiting your ‘must haves’ can widen your options, especially if you let go of popular ones like a big back yard or additional bathrooms.
THINK LONG TERM.
Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should try to buy in a neighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.
FIND A HOUSE YOU CAN AFFORD.
As with engagement rings, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home: 2.5 to 3 times your annual salary. There are also a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, etc. For more detailed information and to learn how to run your own numbers based on your situation, check here.
MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE FOR SHOWINGS.
The best properties move quickly and it’s important to get in to see them as soon as they come to market. Don’t wait until the last minute! When you decide later that you want to view it, it just may already have an offer – or two – on it.
BE READY TO WRITE THAT OFFER.
This means you need to be emotionally prepared to become a real estate owner! I can make the process smooth for you, but you need to be ready to take on the responsibilities and rewards of owning property.