When you outgrow the home you’re in, are ready for a change, start a new job or school, or think you’re ready to buy your first home, it’s time to house hunt. Unlike the TLC show, you cannot find, close, and move into a home in forty-five minutes. There’s a lot of preparation and details to consider before you can even look for a house, so we compiled these top tips for home buyers to help you remember the little important details and to help enhance your home-buying experience.
There is nothing more important than making sure you are able to afford your new home! First, get pre-approved for a mortgage and check your credit score. Start by checking your credit score to have an idea of what kind of loan(s) you qualify for. Then compile your pay stubs, tax returns, W-2s, and any documents associated with additional income from the past two years, as well as a list of your assets. You will need these documents and a form of identification (Driver’s License, Passport) and know your Social Security Number. Determine how much house you can afford and what you are likely to spend based on the kind of home you need. When you set your budget, remember to include these additional expenses: closing costs, moving out/in, homeowner’s in
surance, the cost of bills in your new home, any new furniture or appliances you want to purchase, etc. Then try to save enough money to live comfortably in your new home as soon as you move in. Save yourself the misery of scraping by for a while, when you could instantly be enjoying your new home by saving before you buy. Make small sacrifices now to fully enjoy your new home later without financial stress.
Once you have your finances in order, it’s time to start the house hunt! Searching for your new home is exciting, and to have the best home shopping experience, take the time to prepare before beginning your search. To begin, make a list of the characteristics you want in your home. Think about your life right now and what you’ll need no more than five years from now. It’s likely this won’t be your last home, so you don’t need to take on more than you need. Equally important and often overlooked is the neighborhood you move to. Get to know potential neighborhoods during your house hunt. Who are your neighbors? What is the area known for? What is the entertainment district like? Does the area suit your lifestyle? (For more on neighborhoods, read our article: Picking the Right Neighborhood )Keep narrowing down your choices. Rank homes and their neighborhoods and eliminate the lowest scoring ones until you reach your final few. Before making the final selection, remember to stick to your budget and have your home inspected. The home inspection is important in discovering any current or potential issues with your home that may affect its value or require immediate and costly repair.
Finally, to help you throughout the whole process and alleviate even more stress from the home buying experience, you need to interview and select an agent who you get along with, understands your wants and needs, communicates well, and has the experience he/she needs to successfully seal the deal on the perfect home for you. As you contact and research different agents, read their client reviews and policies. If you don’t spend the time researching and reviewing a few agents, you could end up legally bound to a bad one. Bad agents will not practice consistent communication, show you properties within your budget or match your preferences, and they will not be productive or proactive in listing or looking for your home. To avoid a realtor nightmare, take a look at this article: What to Look for in a Real Estate Agent.