With low interest rates and plenty of homes to choose from, there has never been a better time for people to buy homes. Benefits of home ownership include a tax deduction for the interest you pay, appreciation on your home, and the amount that you are currently paying for rent will be reducing your loan balance and creating equity. A home is often your greatest asset.
The first step in home buying is often getting pre-approved, so you know what price range you will be comfortable with. The lender will also counsel you on how much money you will need for closing costs and downpayment, if any. Negotiations will go better when you find the right home and you can show the seller or his agent that you are pre-approved.
The next step is selecting a real estate agent. Selecting a good real estate agent will save you time and money, and does not cost you anything. Their fee is paid by the homeowner whose home you buy. You should look for one who is an excellent negotiator, who can meet on your time frame, who will listen to you and understand the criteria you are looking for in a home.
If you look for a home without a real estate agent, the agent you deal with will be representing the homeowner's intreest and not yours. It is best to find a good realtor that you feel comfortable with that will have a fiduciary responsibility to look out after your own interests.
In selecting a home, location is most important, then structure and flow of the home. Keep in mind that paint and carpet are things can be changed. You will want to make a list of "must have" and "would like but do not need."
You will want a real estate agent who will show you all homes that fit your criteria, not just those that his company has listed. You will wat to look at the homes on-line first, eliminating those that do not fit. Your real estate agent will show you those that remain, and should point out any potential issues they notice about the house. When you find the home that you like, your real estate agent will help you decide what to offer on the home, and will negotiate for you. When you make an offer, often it is subject to a home inspection. The home inspectator may find issues with the home that you can ask the home seller to repair. Often you will close on the home 30 to 45 days from the date of the offer, taking an hour or so to sign the paperwork. You'll take possession that date or a couple of days later, and move into your own home.
There's no place like home!
Melania & Jim Saltarella, REALTORS, Accredited Buyer Representation, Certified Skilled Negotiators
P.S. If you want to browse homes on your own, try this site with an easy-to-use search function: http://www.magicrealtors.com/. You can search all homes listed for sale in Metro Atlanta, including townhomes and condos, and the site will even email you when a home comes on the market that meets your criteria.