When you’re in the market for a new home, there’s a lot to consider! Even if you already have an idea of what and where you want, finding that perfect house in the right neighborhood is equal parts luck and skill.
With these seven insider tips, you can take the confusion out of shopping for your next home and master the skills used by expert realtors!
1. Plan Early
The best way to get your next home at a great deal is to have your financial ducks in a row ahead of time. Don’t wait to tackle your credit score and bills until you’ve decided to start shopping.
Your credit rating is one of the most significant factors in the home buying process. A higher score means a lower interest rate, which lets you bump up the price range you can afford and possibly get a nicer home.
Lenders will also look at your debt-to-income ratio. Try to get your credit cards and other loans paid off before you start shopping around.
2. Find a Realtor
Working with a real estate agent isn’t necessary, but it can save you a lot of stress. For a small commission that usually comes out of the seller’s profit, not your pocket, the realtor does the legwork for you.
Someone knowledgeable about homes in the area you want to buy in can give you a realistic view of what to expect. It’s common to want something in your price range, but the homes in that neighborhood are too expensive.
A trusted real estate agent will listen to your goals for your new home. They’ll give you your options and work with you to make a plan to find the perfect house in your budget.
3. Know Your Budget
Once you have your credit score nailed down and are ready to start looking, it’s time to do some math. You may have a lender that is willing to finance you for a hefty amount, but first, find out what the monthly payment for that mortgage would be.
Most mortgage payments start at one number and end up a lot higher by the time you’re done. You need to tack on real estate and property taxes, insurance premiums, and homeowners’ association fees if applicable.
Ask your realtor or buyer’s agent what the average rates are for those factors and add them to your monthly payment. Keep playing around and tweaking the numbers until you find a range you are comfortable with.
4. Consider Downsizing
The two-story home with a white picket fence is the typical American dream for young families, but is it necessary for you? You might be surprised to be able to find a better home in your budget if you’re willing to compromise on the size.
Targeted areas like senior-living communities have come a long way in the past decade, too. If you’re looking for something smaller but want the benefits of independence and local conveniences, look into the restricted communities in your coveted neighborhood.
5. Research the Area First
Before you submit an offer on the perfect home, check out the area. Does it have everything you need? Will you be able to get cell phone signals, wireless internet access, clean water, and reliable power?
These all sound basic, but if the home you’re looking at is even slightly outside the city limits, you could have a struggle with any or all of these factors.
Make sure you take precautions and know what you’re getting into before you sign a contract!
6. Don’t Fall for Curb Appeal
Looks can be deceiving. If a seller is working with a seasoned real estate agent, they know how to stage their home to look its best and hide the flaws.
When you work with a trusted realtor, they should be able to point out the less-than-perfect attributes in the home.
Always invest in a home inspection service from a reputable independent company, too. It may cost a little out of your pocket, but it’s worth it if it keeps you from sinking big bucks into a money pit!
7. Make a Reasonable Offer
As soon as you know you’ve found the home you want and you’ve done the research, make a reasonable offer.
Don’t try to get the best deal possible. The seller wants to make a profit, too, and they could be insulted by your low proposal. If that happens, it’s not uncommon for them to decline your offer and not counter back.
If you’re really in love with the home, start with an offer that is in your budget and would be acceptable. Then see where the negotiation process takes you!
Buying a new house should never be a rushed process. With these seven tips, you can start planning ahead to know what you want and be ready financially.