Home buying is a detail-oriented, time-consuming, and extremely emotional process. With today’s market, you can be outbid in minutes or settle for a home that isn’t quite what you want. What do you do? Here are some tips to help make your home buying experience less stressful and more enjoyable.
1. Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is the first step that you will take towards making your dream of homeownership a reality.
Once you know how much house you can afford and what kind of financing you qualify for, it’s easier to start making offers on the homes that catch your eye. Pre-approval letters are just a guideline for what you may be approved for.
When your lender or bank pre-approves you for a certain amount, they are not telling you that’s how much loan you should take out. Instead, pre-approval letters are just a good starting point, and there’s no harm in looking into other loan options later on when you change your mind.
2. Shortlist the Locations Where You Want to Live
Purchasing a home is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your life.
Even though there are often other considerations, such as price or style, it’s true that the location of your new home is truly everything when it comes to real estate and lifestyle.
If you are viewing any properties for sale on your smartphone? Imagine living there! Now consider the lifestyle you want. You might be surprised at how different that is from what you expected.
When you consider buying a home, many of those things that seem to be ancillary to your primary location goals can be just as important as the address you will call home for years to come.
3. Make a list of must-haves of your dream home
Keep in mind that the goal here is to come up with a comprehensive list of parameters that you absolutely do not want to comprise on. That way, when you search for homes, you can know exactly what you want and don’t have to waste time looking at places that don’t fit your needs.
List amenities you want but don’t absolutely require, too. Features like a backyard pool, guest house, or sunroom are nice to have, but not make-or-break features.
This checklist will help you to determine what features you value in your home and can be used to evaluate homes that already fit your criteria.
Then, you can narrow the search to include just homes that match your list of must-haves. If you find a home with everything but one thing, ask yourself whether that feature is truly a priority or just nice to have.
4. Follow the List You Created During Your Home Search
Let’s face it, when you’re shopping for a new home, the internet has the largest selection of homes. It’s here you can search based on homes for sale in your area, and find the property details. You can even narrow your search by price range and see floor plans of various homes.
In more than 40 years as a real estate agent and home buyer, I have observed that buyers gain clarity about their wants and needs after considering several neighborhoods or homes. As you continue looking, you will become more decisive about what you want in your home — how much of a fixer-upper you’re willing to tolerate, how much space you want, how long a commute to work is worth it, the types of schools you prefer for your kids, and so on. By looking at numerous options, buyers clarify their preferences. This makes it easier for them to choose and encourages them to be realistic about what’s possible within their budget.
5. Canvas the areas
If you’re on the lookout for homes for sale by the owner, you’ll need to know what your options are and how homeowners can let you know that they’re on the market. Need inspiration for where to look? Just turn to one of the oldest forms of marketing: the yard sign.
Canvas the area you’d like to buy a home to try and find deals that aren’t listed on the market. Canvas means you go door to door talking to potential sellers about their homes. Canvasing, or going door to door, is a tried-and-true method for finding foreclosed properties, houses that are “pre-foreclosures” and homes for sale by owner (FSBOs), all of which can be some of the best deals available. It’s a good idea to have your offering price in mind when canvassing so that you can easily identify any potential deals that may be out there.
6. Visit Open Houses
After you visit a few open houses, you’ll have a better feel for the price range of homes in your desired areas, as well as a realistic expectation about how large and bright a kitchen or bathroom could be.
Houses are homes, but they’re also showcasing that real estate agents bring potential buyers to. Open houses are an especially good way to see them: you may not love the pea-green cabinets, but the kitchen is where all of those decisions get made. You can assess floor plans, handle appliances, and even try out that fancy toilet.
Open house visits represent a small window into what it will be like to live in a home.
7. Explore pre-MLS Homes
Pre-market homes are homes available before they hit the multiple listing service (MLS). If you know how to find them, these homes could give you a tremendous advantage in the market.
For the homebuyer, there’s an upside to pre-market listings. You might get a chance to find a home before other homebuyers do, so you can make the offer – and get a foot in the door.
A pre-market or pre-MLS home could be a variety of places like an in-law or rental property, a foreclosure, a probate sale, or a house not yet listed on the MLS but being sold by someone who knows it will sell fast. Just about any home can be pre-market — all you need is someone with inside knowledge.
When you begin your home-buying journey, it can be challenging to focus on just the right selection of houses. Many buyers are interested in finding their dream house right from the start, but that’s a mistake. You should first learn what you’re looking for in a new home, and then begin to search for just the right one.
There’s a lot to consider before buying a home. There are mortgages, tax considerations, repairs, and maintenance costs. Deciding whether or not you’re ready to take on the added responsibility of owning a home is just the beginning of your journey.
Affiliated Mortgage can help you find your dream home at the most affordable rates. Contact our loan experts now to get started.
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