Looking to Buy a New Home? Read This First
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned veteran, you’ll want to make sure you’re covering all the bases, including identifying your “perfect home,” finding the right real estate agent, having smart financial planning, doing thorough research, and weighing all your options, and having an idea how much homeowners insurance will cost.
As a homebuyer, you need to carefully consider your future living situation, and figure out what makes sense for your lifestyle and budget. There are benefits and challenges to each type of housing that you’ll want to take into account:
Type of home
• Pros: Budget-minded, monthly payments similar to rent, lower Home Owner Association dues, landscaping and maintenance included.
• Cons: Shared wall, 2 or 3 levels, smaller living area, may have to get permission to make bigger changes or updates on property.
• Pros: May be more affordable than traditional, single-unit home, but receive same tax benefits, may include amenities, landscaping and exterior maintenance included.
• Cons: Shared walls/ceilings, etc., closer living quarters with neighbors, may pay for amenities you don’t use, may have additional maintenance fees.
• Pros: Most private, tax deductions / benefits, highest appreciation in value, stable payment schedule (fixed mortgage)
• Cons: Higher down payment needed, long-term commitment, higher annual taxes, pay own utilities, all maintenance, repairs, landscaping.
It’s highly recommended as a homebuyer, whether first-time or not, that you enlist the help of a professional real estate agent who’ll bring years of expertise to guide you through the whole home buying process.
They will help:
• Navigate the mountains of paperwork and forms that you have to fill out
• Explain standard contracts
• Write and present your offer letter
• Work out a counter offer
• Negotiate pricing or any type of contingencies/particulars
Because your real estate agent will be familiar with your non-negotiable points, your preferences, and your price range as a homebuyer, they will suggest properties within or similar to your needs, especially concerning budget!
A good real estate agent will advise you to get pre-approved for a loan even before you find the house that you love. Being pre-approved as a buyer can help speed-up the closing process and make your offer look more appealing, since it shows that you have solid financing and the offer will not fall through due to a lack of funds (Note: Pre-approval differs from Pre-qualification, which does not mean much; anyone can get pre-qualified without official verification).
Now that you have your budget in mind and a good realtor by your side, if you have found a home you’re interested in, do some basic research:
• Look up housing prices, trends, and sales in that particular area to see how that property compares.
• Redfin.com and RMLS.com are excellent sites for homebuyers.
• Zillow.com can also be helpful, but be aware:
o Zillow is not always up-to-date and sometimes lists unverified information on houses that are not even on the market.
Remember, location is very important; you can change things about the house, but you can’t change where it’s situated. When it comes time to sell, strong school districts are often a top priority for many homebuyers, and it can help justify and even increase the home’s value.
Lastly, as a savvy homebuyer, make sure to order an inspection on the property. You will have to get a mandatory appraisal done, but that’s more to assure the bank that your property is worth the amount of the loan. To protect yourself, be sure to get the house inspected to ensure there are no major issues. And if there are any problems, as the buyer, your realtor may suggest that you negotiate pricing or send a repair addendum to the seller addressing those concerns. Bottom line: Know what you’re paying for!
As the saying goes, you should “get your house in order” so that, as a homebuyer, you can not only be confident that purchasing is the right choice for you, but you’ll be well informed to make the best decision on a new home. And to save money, remember to get several quotes on your homeowners insurance.
Are you currently looking for a new home? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.