Home-buying is in high season right now. Sold signs are posting almost as quickly as ‘for sale’ signs are popping up. If this is the season for you, here are five tips to help you with the process.
Begin an online search to give yourself an idea of what’s out there. Even if you have a great Realtor (see crucial advice below), it’s important to be educated about the market in the area you’re shopping. Decide what’s most important for you to have in a home. Size? Layout? Location? Do you like to host parties? Is privacy your number one priority? Make a list of your family’s needs and wants.
Top priority: find yourself a good Realtor. Some first-time buyers think it will save them money to contact selling agents themselves. The truth is, the selling agent represents the interests of the seller. You need someone who represents yours. Look for a Realtor who is willing to get to know your interests and passions as well as your family dynamic in order to help you navigate the complex process of buying a home.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. It’s impossible to shop seriously for a home until you understand how much home you can afford. Meet with a lender to discuss your income, length of time at your current job, and other financial factors that determine how much a bank is willing to lend toward your dream of owning a home. This will give you the first and best piece of information: your price range. Keep in mind that the lender will tell you the maximum loan amount for pre-approval. You decide a comfortable price range within that amount.
Be present at the home inspection. Once you’ve made an offer and it has been accepted, the next crucial step is the home inspection. Make arrangements to be there for the inspection so you can physically see what the inspector is seeing and ask questions. The inspector might point out an issue that sounds scary to an inexperienced homeowner, but one that is actually present in most homes the same age as the one you’re considering. The home inspector’s job is to find and identify issues so buyers can know the home’s condition and avoid surprise expenses. Even brand new homes can present imperfections. If you’re uncomfortable with what the inspector finds, reduce your offer or walk away and start your home search again.
Be prepared. Once you close on the home, there is no more landlord to call with maintenance issues. Educate yourself on maintenance and upkeep of your home, from the roof to the foundation. Set aside emergency funds for issues that will arise.
The bottom line: there’s a lot to think about when purchasing a family home. This may be the biggest investment you have ever made. A Realtor can help you be certain you won’t miss a step in finding a safe, comfortable place for your family to call home.
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