One mistake that potential buyers make is going house hunting without any sort of plan. Some will set off on this journey without knowing what they want, what they need, or what they can afford. We have compiled a list of 8 tips to help you answer those questions to make sure you buy the right home for you!
Talk to Yourself
Ok, don't start ACTUALLY talking to yourself but understand what type of home will suit you. Would you like a new home or will an existing one work for you? Single or multi-story? Would you be able to handle a fixer-upper?
Do some homework
After deciding what you want in a home, take that list and figure out what are necessities and which features are not deal breakers. Figure out a few different neighborhoods where you would like to live! Find out commute time, schools, crime, style, etc. for each neighborhood. Plug what you want into an online real estate search like here or here. Get a good feel for the prices that are coming up and get rid of some of the properties you don't want.
Sort out your finances
As a rule of thumb, you can usually afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Create a budget and work out how much you would be comfortable spending each month on your payment. A major mistake is to wait until you've already found a home to see if you can afford it. Getting prequalified by a lender will let you know how much you are eligible to borrow and give you a better handle on what is in your range.
Do you have credit issues that may take time to clear up? When is your current lease up? When do you need to be out of your current residence? Each of these has a tendency to come back and bite you if you don't take care of it early.
What are your plans in life? Is this home just a starter house that you'll sell in a few years? Is it going to be a long term house of five years or more? A starter home doesn't need to meet all your expectations but a long term house will need to still keep you happy years from now.
Work with a professional
Ask people you trust for referrals to a real estate professional they trust. Interview agents to determine which have expertise in the neighborhoods and type of homes you're interested in. Because homebuying triggers many emotions, consider whether an agent's style meshes with your personality.
Also ask if the agent specializes in buyer representation. Unlike listing agents, whose first duty is to the seller, buyers' reps work only for you even though they're typically paid by the seller. Finally, check whether agents are REALTORS®, which means they're members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. NAR has been a champion of homeownership rights for more than a century.
It's OK to be picky about the home and neighborhood you want, but don't be close-minded, unrealistic, or blinded by minor imperfections. If you insist on living in a cul-de-sac, you may miss out on great homes on streets that are just as quiet and secluded.
On the other hand, don't be so swayed by a "wow" feature that you forget about other issues-like noise levels-that can have a big impact on your quality of life. Use your priority list to evaluate each property, remembering there's no such thing as the perfect home.
Keep the cooks to a minimum
It's natural to seek reassurance when making a big financial decision. But you know that saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. If you need a second opinion, select one or two people. But remain true to your list of wants and needs so the final decision is based on criteria you've identified as important.