With all of the information out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the home hunting process, especially if you’re a first time buyer. Here’s how to tune out all of the noise, and stay focused on what’s important:
Pre-Approval. Getting pre-approved doesn’t only give you an idea on how much you can afford to spend on your home, but also having a lender actually checked your credit score and verified a specific loan amount for you. You can be competitive to bid against other buyers and your realtors will be able to match you with the properties for your budget.
Additions Rules. Be knowledgeable of the specific rules about additions in your city, which might stray you away from what you envision your dream home to be.
Needs. Know what you really need versus what you want. Share these with your realtor, together narrow the list down. This will help you in a competitive market, helps you know which bid to war on.
Right Budget. We have a seperate article here about budget on home ownership. You have to really make sure, and we mean really determine how much of a mortgage you can really take on.
Budget After the Purchase. You will be making some (a lot of) changes to make it yours. You just have to. Trust us.
Location. They say, “It’s better to have the worst house on a great block than the best house on a bad block.” Neighborhood is the key. First like the neighborhood, then the house.
De-Stress. Once everything is done, you’ll have your dream home. Smile.
Traffic. Convenience in commuting is a major factor to consider. Time the miles, do a mock commute before you commit.
Seller’s Tour. Ask for a personal tour from the seller. You may already have it done with your agent but having a one-on-one walk-through with the sellers make it more personal. This will give you the opportunity to ask more specific question about the littlest spot in the house.
File Up. If you are not the most organized person, then it’s the perfect time to learn how to be one. Expect more paperwork even after you got approves for that loan. And be prepared for making copies and sending them out thru fax.
No Settling Yet! Don’t stop browsing home online and even the Sunday paper on your own. You and your real estate agent might have missed something out there, which could be the one.
Personalized Your Offer. Together with the offer, write the sellers a letter on why they should give you the bid which might also help the seller to willingly budge the price for you. They loved the house, they would want someone who will adore it as much as they once (or still) do.
Cash Down. If you could theoretically pay 35 percent down, put that in your offer letter. Consider allocating more on your down payment, it will compete better with all-cash.
Bank-Owned Properties. Look also for short sales and forclosed homes in your price range. Dealing directly with the bank might be scary, but that also means no seller will be offended with a low-ball bid (which actually might be accepted!).
Closing Costs. Ask, there’s no other way to prepare for it but to ask about it up front. You need to know who’s paying how much. Better know than be sorry later.
Will it be worth it? Think big. Wall colors and furnitures can be all when you but the house. But will the property appreciate in time?
Finally a Homeowner! Now What?
Refinance. A lower mortgage makes the experience as a new homeowner more blissful.
Renovate. Again, budgeting is the key. And make sure to hire a contractor!
Advance Payments. Save yourself up at least three months just in case something happens in the future.