Understand the responsibilities of owning a home.
This definitely applies to first time home-buyers. Purchasing a new home is not always simple. You need to do plenty of research into the purchase of a new home. Once the research has been done it is strongly recommend that you speak with a Realtor, lawyer or HUD counselor. Complicated issues can arise when you own your home and the smart buyers are those who understand all that goes into owning a home, as well as your knowing your rights as a buyer.
Get pre-approved for a loan. The pre-approval process is a stronger than the pre-qualification process. A pre-qualification simply tells a Realtor that you are ready to purchase a new home. A pre-approval tells all parties involved that you have taken the financial steps needed to purchase a new home. Being pre-approved will give you more purchase power showing the seller that you are financially prepared to make such a purchase. This process will also inform you as to what financing options are available to you in today’s market.
Know your desired location. Here are some important factors that must be taken into consideration. Think about your lifestyle – how it is now and how it might be in a few years. Will you need to commute? Do you want to live in a rural neighborhood or in the city? Would you prefer to have a smaller home or a larger home? Do you or will you have school aged children? If you are in a completely new geographical location, you may want to think about renting first in order to familiarize yourself with the area and all that it has to offer. You should take time to get to know the layout of the land, traffic, weather, people, culture and more, before making this big decision. You won’t regret it.
Decide what you want or need in a home? Once you’ve narrowed down where you want to live, you then need to figure out what it is that you have to have in your home. Do you want a modern home with all the amenities or an older home that you can restore? Do you want a large yard for children or a garden, or would you prefer something requiring less maintenance? Is a patio or a porch on your wish list?
How many bathrooms must you have? Do you want a fireplace? Do you have young children? Do they want a pool? Is the house child-friendly? Would you like to entertain? Make a list of all your “must haves”. It is likely that you won’t find all of them in one home, but as you look at potential homes you can start to prioritize which of these “must haves” are truly necessary and which ones you can do without.
Go and see houses. After searching the internet for homes that meet your criteria, it’s time to go see them in person. Photos can often be deceiving. Listing agents can hire photographers who create images that can make rooms in a home appear larger than they are in real life. Or on the other hand, an agent may have taken photos of the home that just don’t do it justice. The only way to know if a house is right for you is to go out and see it for yourself.
Allow your agent to show you homes that meet your criteria as well as those that are slightly different. Often agents may have suggestions that you would not have considered, but after looking at, may be appealing. Open houses are another resource to see the variety that is out there. If you attend an open house, it’s important to let them know that you are already working with an agent.
Look beyond the décor. Try to look past the paint colors! Some agents will recommend their sellers to do some staging to a home before putting it on the market, but this does not always happen. While staging a home can make a home look fantastic, it is important to look beyond the furniture. Look at the structure and the flow of the home. Look past the beautiful antique settee and try to imagine how your leather recliner will fit. Are the rooms large enough? Are there enough windows?
Even though the avocado green carpet is not your favorite color, beneath it there could be some lovely hardwood floors. The bright blue walls can be repainted, and the hideous light fixture over the dining room table can be replaced. Don’t get caught up in what you are seeing today, focus on the possibility and the potential that lies within the home. When everything is out of the home and it is yours, you have the opportunity to do whatever it is you want to do to the walls, floors, fixtures and property.
Have a plan “B” It’s important to have a backup plan. You may like a house enough to put an offer on it, but the seller may not agree to your price and terms, or issues may come up during a home inspection, that are unable to be resolved. It is a good idea to be level headed so that if your dream home does not work out, you have a plan B to fall back on.
Buyer To Verify All In other words…Buyer Beware! It is up to you as the Buyer to do your due diligence when it comes to knowing everything you can about the property. If a Comparative Market Analysis has not been done ask your agent to do one for you. Standard comparative market analysis reports contain active listings, which include all the homes in your area that are similar and currently on the market, pending listings, which are formerly active homes that are pending a sale, but have not been sold yet, and sold listings, which have recently sold.
Visit with the neighbors. Drive by and check out what is happening on Friday night at 10 o’clock. Look into past utilities costs. Maybe take some time to talk with the building and zoning departments to see what work has been done to the house in the past and check for permits. You should find out if the home is in a flood zone. Building and zoning should have a survey on file for you. If a survey has not been created you will want to consider getting your own done.
Have a home inspection Do not be surprised when you see the report. Inspectors need to find everything wrong with the house, no matter how big or small, that is their job. Make a list of your priorities so that you can decide which items need to be addressed by the seller before you close escrow. You can always discuss these matters with your Realtor or other professionals to give you more information, as well as an estimate of the work needed to resolve the problem.
Be patient at close of escrow Very often the lender will request additional documentation to verify previous statements, title may uncover a surprising lien, or you may have purchased that new big screen TV too soon. Things can happen at the last minute that can change everything, so just do your best to get what is requested of you, to whomever requested it, as soon as possible.
With the economy in its present state of uncertainty, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider purchasing a home if you don’t own one already. When the housing market is down, inventory is up. There are many homes for sale that are being offered at very competitive prices. If you’re in the market for a new home, now is the perfect time to make your purchase because we are seeing an upward trend!
So go out with this arsenal of information behind you and have fun house hunting!
Realtor’s at Stewart Realty, LLC, Meridian, Idaho - Toll Free: 866-787-5445
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