When buying your first home it is common for some to feel overwhelmed with all that faces them. However, buyer apprehension can be remedied with a bit of good information. Here are seven important things to DO that will make your home buying experience successful.
1. At the risk of sounding self serving, I strongly suggest that the number one DO is to solicit help from a professional Realtor in whom you can trust. Buying a home is probably the most important investment of your life. An experienced Realtor who knows the market, the areas of town to avoid, the methods for negotiating effectively, the things to look out for in the home, and who has the proper documents to affect a legally binding contract tailored to your needs will help you avoid making one or more of a myriad of mistakes. Since a Realtor will rarely cost you anything, it makes perfect sense to have that kind of professional help. Hiring a real estate professional is the first must do!
2. Talk to a mortgage specialist about getting a mortgage before looking at homes. It will be important to know what your price limit is and to be able to negotiate with the vendor knowing that you have a preapproved mortgage. All things being equal, vendors will always accept an offer from someone who is preapproved before someone who is unsure about what they can afford. As well, just knowing that you are able to finance the home you are looking at will relieve some of the anxiety during the house hunting phase. Visit the mortgage specialist and get the financing approval you need first.
3. Meet with your Realtor to discuss the type of home you want. Your Realtor is your window into the market. He or she will set you up to receive a list of all homes that fit your criteria and it can be updated on a daily basis. You can receive a notice of all new properties for sale as soon as they are listed. This will enable you to focus on those homes that potentially meet your needs and filter out the ones that are outside your price range or are unsuitable because of location, size, style or some other parameter.
4. Ask questions if you don't understand something. Ask as many questions as you like. It is your right to have as much information as you want or need so make sure you ASK. The more you learn the more comfortable you will be with the process. Your Realtor should be informed and able to give you accurate information. A Realtor will not be able to give specific details about some things but s/he should know the people who can. You will need to use a home inspector, a lawyer, a mortgage specialist, possibly a surveyor, a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician, a ventilation expert or an interior decorator depending on the home you choose to purchase.
5. View a minimum of five homes for sale to get a good idea of what your money can buy and to find possible candidates for a second viewing. By viewing multiple properties for sale you will be able to compare the features and benefits of any possible choices and rule out those that will not work. The time needed for house hunting is sometimes difficult but always necessary to find. Be focused and dedicated to the process so that the homes you are considering will be available to purchase when you are ready to buy. Some homes may sell quickly because other buyers are at a different stage of buying than you. If this happens, you may be disappointed but remember, there will be others tomorrow.
6. Negotiate from a position of strength. Learn as much as you can about the house, the vendors motivation for selling and the things that are most important to the vendor. Your Realtor should include conditions in your offer that enable you to walk away from the contract if you find out something is not as originally represented. The deal should be tailored to suit your needs on the important issues. But negotiating is all about finding the middle ground and that usually takes compromise. Decide the areas you are willing to compromise on and what are your must have conditions.
7. The final DO is one that some people forget until it is over. So don't forget to have fun! This is one of the most exciting times of your life. You are beginning the process of acquiring one of the most widely possessed assets in the world. It will contribute significantly to your net worth in the long term so buying your first home should be a little fun. Roll with the punches along the way. Let your emotions get involved in the process if you like but not a specific home. When the call comes back from your Realtor that your offer has been accepted, celebrate with flare. But even if you don't get that call today because someone else bought the home you want, remember to enjoy the process. When you are settled away in your new home, this period should bring back memories of satisfaction and fun for years to come.
R. Greg Osmond is a Platinum Award winning Realtor serving St. John's and surrounding areas, Newfoundland and Labrador for over 20 years and can be reached at 709-895-2500. Visit http://www.rgregosmond.com/ for further information. Find him on facebook and be a friend.