1. Should I Even Buy?There is nothing wrong with renting and in many cases it’s the smart move. A critical factor to consider is how long you expect to live in the house. Some experts believe that you’ll need to stay for at least 36 months. Of course, that will depend on the price you pay for the home, it’s current value and rate of appreciation.
It is good to note that in today’s “easy” credit environment, lenders are increasingly willing to loan large sums of money to purchase a house with a very small down payment. So, just because you don’t have a lot of money available for a down payment, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy a house.
While creditors are still out looking for new customers, the days of loaning money to anyone with a heartbeat are past. Getting Pre-Approved is a key step to buying a home and shouldn’t be ignored.
2. Get Professional HelpNo, we’re not talking about a therapist, but instead, real estate professionals. After the decision to purchase a house is made, the next thing you should do is find a quality agent—someone who understands the process and the market; someone who’ll work well with you to find that perfect house.
Then ask your Realtor® to identify a reputable lending company. Having these professionals on your team will ensure that your first-time home buying experience goes smoothly and that you make the best decisions possible.
3. Locate the LocationYou can save yourself a great deal of time and energy by narrowing the field of properties you are considering. Start by identifying the part of town in which you’d like to live. Take time to consider its proximity to your job, shopping, major highways and schools, if you have children.
Also note whether an area is growing or not. Would you prefer to live in the hustle and bustle of a expanding area or would you rather find a more secluded, quiet location away from crowded roadways and busy shops. Your Realtor can help you with this. The last thing you want to do is purchase a home that doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Remember what they always say, “Location, location, location.” Yes, it’s that important.
4. Create Your Master ListOne of the toughest tasks with any purchase decision is determining whether something is a want or a need. If you identify these features from the outset, before you’ve looked at a single property, then your list will have been made objectively and you won’t be susceptible to last minute temptations.
For example, if you didn’t list a in-ground hot tub as a need (or even a want) on your Master List, then when you visit a property that has one, you’ll be able to correctly assess the overall home and not let a single feature skew your perception.
5. Get Pre-ApprovedBefore you visit a single property, you should take time to sit down with your lender and determine what you feel comfortable borrowing to purchase this home. (Getting quotes from multiple lenders is even better!) Pre-qualification is a quick process that doesn’t go far enough. Pre-approval is much more thorough and basically says, Lender A with loan you “X” dollars for a house in a specific price range. It’s not the final say so but it is what most real estate professionals consider as legitimate. It doesn’t take much time and will help you zero in on the price range that is custom-fitted to your financial situation.
6. Visit Some PropertiesNothing will give you a feel for a home like visiting it in person. Have your Realtor® set up a few showings and enjoy the process. Hopefully you’re not under a time constraint and the viewings will be a fun experience. Only by visiting a few properties will you start to get a good feel for the kind of properties that exist on the market in your price range and in your desired geographic location. Don’t expect to find your dream home the first trip out. Today’s statistics show that home buyers visit an average of 10 properties before making an offer.
7. Educate YourselfYour Realtor® will always be your most valuable resource, but you can also take advantage of the Internet in the following ways: learn more about a specific property/area; take virtual tours of houses before physically visiting them; compare characteristics of multiple properties in order to make a more informed decision.
The Internet has revolutionized the real estate industry and has given home buyers and sellers access to information that was previously unavailable.
8. Negotiate The DealWhen it comes to negotiations, having an experienced Realtor® is vital. Understanding how the negotiation process works and the intricacies of how to best frame an offer can sometimes be the difference between getting that dream house at a price you can afford or completely missing out.
One other point, always make your offer contingent on a home inspection. Your agent can recommend a good home inspector and the costs are relatively low. You certainly want to know about a leaky basement before you purchase that house… not after.
9. Insure Your ValuablesNow that you’ve got a house, you want to have it insured, right? That goes for your home’s title as well. Title insurance is relatively cheap and is becoming more and more important in today’s litigious environment.
10. Close and Move In!It’s finally here—the big day! A house closing isn’t the most exciting experience but it’s the necessary, final step in home ownership. Then you get to move in. Hopefully, it won’t be raining and the movers won’t break (or lose) a single item.
Congratulations, you are officially a homeowner!
This article was written by Tre Pryor, a Realtor® with RE/MAX Champions and a Louisville real estate expert. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the LouisvilleHomesBlog.com, the top real estate blog in Louisville, KY. The original content of this article appeared here.