When planning for the biggest financial investment in your life you need to know the key things you must to do in order to accomplish your goal and not make mistakes you will regret.
Buying a home is not like purchasing a DVD or a shirt you can return to the store, and then get your money back if you don’t like it. If you aren’t prepared to do the prep work, you may be better off staying away from home ownership until you are ready.
Check out my VIDEO SERIES on YouTube about HOW TO BUY A HOME at
Unless you are a cash buyer with big pockets, generous parents, a trust fund or inheritance, you’ll need a mortgage. Most people do, so don’t be embarrassed. You need to know what loan you can qualify for. No sense in looking at $500,000 homes when you are only qualified to purchase a $150,000 condo because of your income, assets, debts and credit.
If you are not prepared to go through the pre-approval process and provide all the information and supporting documentation the lender needs, that may signal you are not ready to buy a home. Getting a loan these days can be a hassle, but the hard work and effort will pay off. And you don’t have a choice – if you need a loan there is plenty of work to do.
Also be sure you know your personal budget. If the monthly payment ends up being most of your take home pay, including all that discretionary money you want each month for travel, sports, clothing and entertainment, you will be living from paycheck to paycheck.
WORK WITH A QUALIFIED REALTOR®
You might think the Internet is the be-all-end-all of information, with answers to every question about real estate. Don’t be fooled. There are plenty of gaps, discrepancies, contradictions, and enough stuff to confuse even the most savvy buyer.
You need a trusted, knowledgeable REALTOR® to answer your questions, educate you, guide you through the process, and help find solutions to problems that might arise. Not to mention you want someone in your corner, watching out for your best interests, financial and otherwise, since that is not the listing agent’s job (why do you think the seller has a contract with a listing agent?). The Internet can’t do that. Neither can your best friend, your family or your neighbor. The REALTOR® working with you is like having your own attorney protecting you in a legal matter. Your agent is NOT, and cannot act as, an attorney, but the relationship is similar.
DECIDE WHAT YOU NEED IN YOUR HOME
Even if this is your first home you likely have some ideas, even vague, of the things that are important, or necessary, to you. Focusing on what you want, rather than what you need, will likely be frustrating since so often the budget for those wants is lacking. And sometime we want things we really don’t need. That’s not to say you shouldn’t dream. But be prepared to give up some of those wants in order to get what you truly need, and can afford.
And be sure to consider the community and local neighborhood, too. It’s not just about the house. A great house in a neighborhood you hate is not a good combination.
UNDERSTAND LOCAL MARKET CONDITIONS
There are a number of truisms in real estate. “Real estate is local” is certainly one of them. Local market conditions will affect you in significant ways – the inventory available in your price range, the competition from other buyers, pricing, the strategy you use when making your offer, the negotiations, and more.
Doing your research on the market and looking at homes will help you better understand what is going on in the local market. You should watch what is selling, how quickly, and for what price. But the best source of the true nature of the local market and HOW this affects you is your REALTOR®. Not the media, the Internet, your best friend, your family or your neighbors. Ask to be educated.
HAVE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
You need to have an attitude of commitment – to do the research, to ask the right questions, to get financially prepared, and to spend the necessary time to look at homes and neighborhoods. You will likely find that house hunting is like having a second full-time job. Treat it seriously, it’s serious business!
Be realistic. You are probably not buying your dream home, unless you have a ton of money. And you likely won’t be living in your house forever. Expect that there will be plenty of trade offs, and things you are not in love with. But keep the long term goal in mind – the rewards of owning your new home!
Be excited! This will be fun time, although expect it to be filled with lots of anxiety and nerves…it should be, because it’s a big deal.
Be positive. It may take a while to find the right home. Or you might be in competition with other buyers for a home several times before you succeed.
Keeping a positive attitude, even with the ups and downs, will help.
There are some people who have not purchased homes because they are un
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