Hire a local Real Estate Professional. You'll be glad you did in the end. Your local Real Estate professional is your advocate in every regard whose job is to provide you with all possible information and/or services that will be of benefit throughout the transaction. A lot of footwork is needed during any Real Estate deal, and you will need and appreciate the resources that can be made available to you via your local Broker. These days, especially if you're selling, you need a REALTOR® now more than ever.
Shop for loan rates and Pre-Qualify for financing before you start to look at houses. If you're not sure where to begin, ask your local Real Estate Professional for recommendations. Having a letter in hand from a lender saying you're qualified and ready to proceed can be a tremendous tool that will strengthen your offer when your ready to buy. It will also take away an enormous amount of stress that you don't need in the first place.
Be careful with the financing. Interest-Only, variable (ARM,) or other non-traditional loans often have enticing rates to begin with that might make a home normally out of your reach seem affordable. As has been all over the news lately, these types of loans can be trouble if taken out for the wrong reasons. Generally speaking, if you intend to remain in a home more than just a few years, a fixed rate, long term loan is preferable. Conversely, if you intend to be selling within a couple years anyway, (and hopefully at a profit) it doesn't make sense to spend more cash than is necessary every month on a fixed rate loan (generally.. however, rates are crazy low right now, even on fixed 30s.) Talk in depth with your lender about exactly what your plans are over the term of your loan. Know the details of any loan you're getting and the reasons why.
Long term loans shorter than 30 years will pay off your home much faster, but be careful. Instead of locking yourself down into a 15 year loan (for example) in lieu of the traditional 30, get a thirty year loan and double up your payment, or at least make a practice of paying extra money each month toward the loan "principle." (Do the math.. it's amazing.) By using the extra-to-principle method, you will always have the optional safety valve, during hard-times, of simply paying the actual amount due on the your loan (and not the accelerated amount) when or if cash ever becomes hard to come by. If you lock yourself down to say, a fifteen-year loan, that monthly amount due is set.
Don't buy more house than you can afford. Most of the time, with good credit, the majority of buyers can be approved for more loan, and consequently more house, than they can really afford. Don't let anyone push you past your financial limits. The combination of excitement, loan approval, outside pressure and sheer good old-fashioned impulse, is often a classic formula for financial disaster.
Don't buy less house than you can afford, or worse nothing at all. I know that sounds like a contradiction of the above but it doesn't make sense to buy less house than you can afford or no real estate at all. Keeping in mind what I said about not buying too much house, try to reach just a little. As long as you can afford it, in the long term, as with all investments, generally the more you invest, the greater will be your corresponding return.
Buy what feels right. Don't get talked into buying a house that feels wrong for any reason. If it's a significant-other doing the pressing, sit down and have an honest talk about your feelings. Even if you can't quite put your finger on why you feel ambivalent, unless you're 100% certain about a potential purchase, don't do it.
Do your homework. In most cases, a home inspection for structural, electrical, and plumbing issues is good advice before closing, but that's not all you should check out. What about Insects and Dry Rot? Asbestos, Lead Paint etc? These things are not part of a normal inspection, so don't just assume that they are. What about the lot lines? Are you certain that the fence you had been looking at is a good indicator of the property line? Does the property have Home Owner's Association dues? Has the escrow company given you a clean title report? Have you checked the local neighborhood Covenants (CC and R's?) Perhaps your beloved horse or other pet simply isn't allowed in the neighborhood. Check out all of these things well in advance.
When selling, get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) from a local Real Estate professional who knows the neighborhood in order to get your house priced properly from the very start. Over or under pricing your home can cost you time and/or money that you don't want to lose.
Try to have fun. Think positively. Buying or selling Real Estate can be among the most stressful exercises in life. Most of the time, however, given the right circumstances, it can also be a lot of fun. Let your Real Estate Professional carry as much of the burden as possible (not you) and try to remember that when and if things go a little sideways, that it is that very awkward moment (or more) that will make the happy times to come all the more satisfying. Almost every Real Estate deal, is in the end, a sweet and unparalleled happy Champagne-popping experience.
Once it's over that is! See you next time!
Fred Jaeger is a licensed Oregon Real Estate Broker and an e-PRO Certified REALTOR® affiliated with RE/MAX Sunset Realty Sunriver/La Pine. He can be reached directly at 541 598-5449 or email@example.com .