make your home-buying experience positive

By
Real Estate Agent with Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois

The Stress of Buying a New Home

Buying a home can be one of the more stressful experiences in life. It is often a long and sometimes intimidating process, lasting up to six months on average. The Real Estate market is huge and changes often with swings up and down. It's easy to become overwhelmed by how much is ahead of you and how little you know about the process. But with the right attitude, it can also be an enjoyable, even exhilarating experience.

Here are some tips to make your home-buying experience positive and less stressful.

Preparing to Move

Organize

Be prepared by becoming knowledgeable. Educate yourself on each step of the process so you know what to expect. Get organized ahead of time. Keep a notebook and calendar dedicated exclusively to the home-buying process. An Excel spreadsheet is a great way to organize and compare all the information you gather, such as the homes you are interested in, potential lenders, and different mortgage rates.

Finances

Assess your financial situation before you begin looking for a home. Come up with a solid number for the maximum amount you can afford, as well as a target amount you would like to spend, ahead of time. Overestimate the closing costs (interest rates can change). This is also a good time to begin gathering the financial documents that you'll need when applying for a loan.

Keep your finances in order until you close on your new home, which could be as long as six months away. Do whatever you can to help improve your credit score; don't acquire new debt (no major purchases, new loans or new credit cards), reduce or eliminate any current debt, and pay your bills on time. It is never too early to begin improving your credit and is best started as early as two years prior to purchasing a home.

Find an Agent

Find a real estate agent who you trust and connect with on a personal level. Communication in this relationship is fundamental. Some questions to ask yourself: Are they good at translating industry jargon into terms you can easily understand? Do they communicate well using media that works for you, such as email, cell phone, or video conferencing? Credentials are a big factor too. Choose an agent with proven expertise in both the type of property and property location that interests you.

Finding a Home

"Think from the end," is a common phrase heard in human potential circles. See yourself in your new home. How does it make you feel? What does it look like? Keep a journal to record these thoughts. Be as descriptive as possible. This can help to not only narrow down precisely what you are looking for in a home, but it can also help anchor you emotionally during a potentially unstable time by keeping the big picture in mind.

While dreaming of your new home is an important first step, keeping your expectations in check is equally important. Keep in mind that the criteria of what you are looking for in a home will change along the way. No house is perfect. Be willing to compromise on some of your requirements. Make a list of your top priorities (must-have's) and lower priorities (nice-to-have's). This will help identify areas where you can be more flexible.

Once you've found a home you like and know what you can work with financially, don't let the latest market news influence your decision to move forward. If you start second-guessing the housing market or interest rates, you risk losing the home to another buyer. Choose a home because you love it. Listen to your heart.

Waiting for Acceptance

Once you've made an offer on a new home, try to relax and engage in your routine activities while you wait to hear whether the seller accepts your offer. During this waiting period, there are many potential stressors that could send your mind reeling. What if the seller rejects your offer, or comes back with an unreasonable counter-offer? Was your offer too little, or too much? Be prepared to make many offers before one is accepted. Keep in mind, even if your offer is accepted, there's no guarantee it will close. Try to remain detached from the outcome until after the property has been inspected and you've been approved for a mortgage.

Inspection Period

Hire experienced and certified inspectors to conduct a thorough inspection of the property including possible insect damage. Be present during inspection, so you can ask questions regarding the home and become knowledgeable about any issues that are discovered.

Getting approved for a Loan

Taking out a loan can be the most stressful part of the home-buying process. Transactions typically take at least a month to complete. Having your financial situation scrutinized can be an uncomfortable process. Worrying about whether you will be approved is an added stressor. It helps to gather your financial records (credit card balances/statements, bank statements, investment statements) prior to meeting with a loan officer. Obtain a copy of your credit report; you're entitled by law to one free credit report per year. A copy of your 4506 T form (IRS Tax Return Transcript), which includes a summary of your tax information, is also available online for download.

Don't lose sight of the fact that you have options when choosing a lender and a mortgage. This can help restore a sense of control when so much of the home-buying process is out of your hands. Talk to several lenders; don't just go for the first lender you talk to. Consult with your Real Estate agent to help you through the process of securing a mortgage. Don't hesitate to ask questions until you understand the answer.

After Close, Moving In

Congratulations! You've successfully negotiated yourself through the complex maze that is home-buying and now find yourself at last kicking back on your couch with your favorite drink in the home of your dreams.

 

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Rainmaker
658,697
MaryKay Shumway
The Kellstrom Ray Agency, Inc. (Est. 1948) - Sister Bay, WI
Door County Wisconsin's Real Estate Expert

Great post---a complete breakdown of A-Z.  I have to do timeline letters this week, and there are some nice tips here for me to remind people--gather your financial records first!  Thanks for writing.

Jan 29, 2012 05:35 AM #1
Rainmaker
1,185,495
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Dale, excellent advise that all home buyers should follow. Yes buying can be stressful, yet the ones that follow your guide will find it much easier and might even enjoy the journey.

Jan 29, 2012 05:38 AM #2
Rainer
446,540
Adam Tarr
MavRealty - Phoenix, AZ
PC -GRI, ABR, CDPE, RSPS, ePro - Designated Broker

It's a shame when an agent doesn't explain the whole process and educate a buyer.  Cudos to all who do it right.  It makes everyone happier

Jan 29, 2012 05:44 AM #3
Rainmaker
1,289,786
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Dale:  You offer so many strong and important messages regarding credit and mortgage financing within your post.  Thank you ... it ultimately helps the client, but the mortgage lender too, when potential/buyers are educated to the ABC's and realities of mortgage financing and obtaining that financing.  I really liked that you pointed out that it's important to continue to improve your credit while in the mortgage process ... and to avoid adding debt while in that period.  Just had another young client completely derail their transaction temporarily by performing unwise holiday credit purchases.  And that AFTER being told repeatedly NOT to do that.  Frustrating to her .. and to me both.

Keep on preachin' this sermon ... it's vitally important!

Gene

Jan 29, 2012 06:06 AM #4
Rainmaker
238,476
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

I so appreciate all of your comments.  Wishing each of you a 2012 filled with great health and unexpected income!

Jan 29, 2012 04:35 PM #5
Rainer
55,353
Christine Blaski
Cornerstone Real Estate - Frisco, CO
Frisco, Summit County CO Realtor

Thanks - this is a clear and easy to understand breakdown for Buyers. Real estate investing becomes a much smoother process when one is prepared!

Jan 30, 2012 07:40 AM #6
Ambassador
1,096,732
Robert Hammerstein -201-315-8618
Christie's International Real Estate - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Dale - Very easy to read and concise report. Well done. It is our job to explain the process and you have done a great job here...

Jan 30, 2012 08:29 AM #7
Rainmaker
847,547
Barbara Altieri
Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Dale -- Yes, indeed the home buying experience can be stressful. But having an agent like yourself who has a handle on the process and is adept in preparing and educating buyers sure goes a long way to making the process positive as well as enjoyable.

Jan 30, 2012 09:46 AM #8
Ambassador
2,529,141
Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Dale, a nice summary with really good pointers.   Thank you very much!

Jan 30, 2012 03:57 PM #9
Rainmaker
238,476
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

Again thanks for all your great comments.  It really touches me when all of you take the time to read my posts!

Jan 31, 2012 06:32 AM #10
Ambassador
2,011,643
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Dale - There are definitely stresses to buying a new home, and you've laid out some good ideas for alleviating some of them.

Jan 31, 2012 02:03 PM #11
Rainmaker
238,476
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

Thanks Christine.  It is great we have this site to post information our valued client's can read before we start working with them.  Hopefully, it will help make our duties easier.

Feb 01, 2012 03:49 AM #12
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Rainmaker
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Dale Taylor

Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos
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