Buying a home can be a rewarding life experience, as well as a great investment. But having a successful purchase requires some education and research. For first time homebuyers especially, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration – any maybe even money – if you start with a few simple steps.
Know What You Need
The first step is being honest about your needs versus your wants. For example, you may dream of having a big backyard for gardening. But if you have a busy schedule, a low-maintenance townhouse probably makes more sense. You also have to think about the long term. Will the house still meet your needs 5 years from now?
Find a Real Estate Agent
I, as a real estate agent, can pre-qualify you for a loan, answer questions about neighborhoods, and coordinate the closing. To find the right agent for you, look for someone who makes you feel comfortable and listens to your needs. You also want to find a professional who knows the community and current market.
Crunch the Numbers
It’s extremely important to have a clear idea of your financial situation before you start looking for a home. Not only will this help you set a budget, but financial records will come in handy when you start shopping for a loan. While interest rates and closing costs are important considerations, also make sure that everything is explained to you in a way that you can understand clearly.
Focus on areas that meet your needs, budget and personal taste. Factors to pay special attention to include convenient access to transportation, employment, schools and stores. The right neighborhood should also make you feel safe, offer recreational opportunities, and have adequate fire and police protection.
Inspect Houses Carefully
During any house showing, be alert for signs of structural weakness, water damage, pest infestations or other things that just don’t ‘look’ right. Conversely, don’t overlook an otherwise suitable home just because it has cosmetic problems like outdated carpet or a bad paint job. Most importantly, never purchase a home without first having it thoroughly examined by a professional home inspector.
Negotiations and Contingencies
Don’t rely on price as your sole bargaining chip. Contingencies may be written into the contract to specify how certain aspects of the transaction will be handled – everything from standard contingencies like inspections, to contingencies for the seller to pay some of your closing costs. Make sure any verbal agreements are written into the contract. On the other hand, do not overburden your contract with too many contingencies.
The closing represents the completion of the sale – the transfer of the property from one to the other. Be prepared to sign numerous documents. If you are to bring money to the table, make sure that it is in the form of certified funds. Also a picture ID will be needed by the closing agent of all persons in the transaction.