Buying a home can be an exciting new adventure, and having the right guidance can make it easier. With so many homes available and so many factors to consider, you may not know what to look for. After all, there's a lot to consider when entering the home buying process—such as price, fees, location, the community, and more. Put your worries to rest with these helpful tips for finding the perfect home so you can get started on your search today.
Tip 1: What Does Your Perfect Home Look Like?
When you think of your dream home, what do you imagine (PDF)? When you close your eyes, do you see a single-family home, townhome, or a condo? Do you want a modern home with an open floorplan or something more traditional? Set aside some time to write down all of the things you want in your new home. Consider key factors such as things you "must have" in your new home to be happy. This can be anything from the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to the size of the kitchen and backyard.
Make a separate list of features you think would be "nice to have" but you don't necessarily need, such as an office, backyard patio or porch, two-car garage, fireplace, or sliding glass doors. Having these lists handy will make the home buying process a lot simpler when seeing the latest home.
Tip 2: Determine Your Housing Budget
Before looking at potential homes, it's crucial to determine a realistic budget. Once you decide on your financial plan, stick to it. Consult your list of "must have" and "nice to have" features when considering how much you can afford to spend.
This also means doing diligent research on homes you're considering and factoring in moving expenses, and any potential renovations, into your budget. It's essential to consider unexpected factors such as longer commute times, or whether or not your future home will have energy efficient appliances. All of these things add up and, without a budget in mind, you can easily spend beyond the limit you've set.
Tip 3: Will You Need a Mortgage?
After determining a loose housing budget, you'll need to decide how much you'll be comfortable paying each month. If you have to take out a mortgage, consider saving for a down-payment. A mortgage calculator can help you estimate your monthly mortgage payment. Don't forget to include expenses like homeowners insurance and property taxes when looking at mortgage estimates.
Once you have a number, contact a lender to begin the pre-qualified process. Since the real estate market can be very competitive, getting pre-qualified for a loan will help you stand out among other home buyers.
Additionally, determining a pricing range will help you to narrow down your search results, allowing you to focus on something equally important: the location of your new home.
Tip 4: Consider The Location of Your New Home
Equally important when considering purchasing a home is considering your future home's location. What kind of neighborhood do you want to live in? Be sure to research school districts, and commute times to work and to any other areas you frequent.
Living in a great location and within a good school district may boost the overall value of your home. While considering selling your home may be the furthest thing from your mind right now, it's essential to consider your home's appeal.
Check Out The Neighborhood
Go for a drive around the area and get an overall feel of the neighborhood. Does it seem clean? Are the people friendly? Is this a community you can see yourself, or your family, being a part of? It may even be worth checking in with your neighbors-to-be to see what they think of the area. Create a list of pros and cons to help keep your search objective.
Tip 5: Do Your Research
Once you've narrowed your list down to just a few prospective homes, it's time to dig a little deeper. If you've already enlisted the help of a real estate agent, they can help you with this.
Do a background check on each home and consider critical factors
- How long the house has been on the market
- The number of foreclosures in the area
- Price changes since the seller first listed the home
- Neighboring homes that have recently sold
- The amount you would be expected to pay in property taxes
This will give you better insight into whether you should move forward. If you’re not happy with the results, you can cross the home off your list and move on to better prospects.
Tip 6: Talk To a Real Estate Agent
If you haven't had any luck in your search for a new home, it may be worth finding a knowledgeable real estate agent to work with. A real estate agent will be familiar with local market trends to help you find the right home for your needs. Their expertise and knowledge can help with your search—and put you a step ahead of other home buyers.
Additionally, a real estate agent can negotiate with the seller on your behalf and handle the necessary paperwork. If you're a first-time home buyer, working with a real estate agent can make the home buying process smoother and more efficient.
Tip 7: Be Flexible
Keep in mind that not every house you look at will be perfect. When it's time to make an offer on a home, it's important to try and visualize living there. Can you imagine your furniture in the living room and dining room? Can you see yourself preparing breakfast in the kitchen?
You may also want to make changes, such as giving the interior a fresh coat of paint. Try to remain flexible: These changes will allow you to give your new home a personal flair and a chance to make it your very own. After you spruce up the place, your new place will feel like home.
Tip 8: Proceeding to The Buying Process
Once you've picked, the next step is making an offer. Don't be afraid to negotiate the seller's original price. If you're unsure of how to proceed, your real estate agent can handle the negotiations on your behalf.
If your offer is accepted, the next step is to get a home inspection. A home inspector provides you with an unbiased opinion on the home's condition. The money you'll spend on a home inspection could potentially save you money down the road if it turns out your home needs expensive repairs. After you get your home inspection report, you and your real estate agent can re-negotiate your initial offer based on your inspection results.
Congratulations—You're Officially a Homeowner
While the home buying process can be lengthy it's worth it once you have a place to call your own. You can now enjoy the most important aspect of becoming a homeowner—moving into your new home. The stressful parts of buying a new home are behind you, and you can begin moving your belongings into your new home and making it yours.