The process of buying a home can be both exhilarating and unnerving for buyers. But with a proper understanding of the process and a clear sense of objectives, most buyers will find the experience very satisfying.
To minimize the anxiety or frustration of the process, consider these steps...
Get preapproved for a mortgage (assuming you will need to finance part of your purchase). Meet with a reputable mortgage loan officer to determine the size of mortgage for which you can qualify. In the process, you may determine that you want to obtain the maximum mortgage possible – or you may conclude that you prefer to keep your monthly payments at a lower level. This will help you focus on housing in the price range you can afford.
Create your “wish list” for a home. For example, do you want an older home with more character or do you want newer construction? Are you willing to make improvements on a home, or do you want a home which requires no meaningful updating? What style or personality of home is most appealing to you? What are the most important rooms in the home for you? Do you have special needs or interests which could influence the type or style of home you choose? What size of yard would you ideally like? Where in the metro area would you like to live? How long a commute to work are you willing to make? Is proximity to neighborhood or area amenities important to you? How important are factors like area schools?
Acquaint yourself with the tools to help you in your home search. All homes on the Multiple Listing Service will be found on a variety of internet search sites. Not only can you use these sites to screen homes of interest to you, but you can also set up a personal search on many of them, so that “new” listings are sent to you electronically as they hit the market. Likewise, visiting occasional Sunday Open Houses is a good way for you to become acquainted with the types of housing in various neighborhoods, as well as housing styles and prices.
Select a realtor to work with you in your search. The most valuable qualities of a good realtor include integrity, knowledge of the housing markets in the areas of greatest interest to you, responsiveness, and a genuine interest in representing your best interests. There are many ways to identify a good realtor, including a referral from a friend, reputation in a neighborhood, introduction through an Open House, or similar means. Finding the right realtor for you will not only simplify the process, but make it more enjoyable and guarantee a good outcome.
Consider your timetable. When would you like to occupy your new home? Do you have other projects or factors which could influence your timetable? Do you need to sell another home first? Do you need to save more money before buying? Recognize that it commonly takes in the range of 60 days from the time you reach an agreement with a seller to purchase a home before you will be closing on it, so take this into consideration as you plan.
How long do you plan to live in the next home? Recognize that this could impact the type or price range of home you purchase. Also consider that every home buyer becomes a home seller at some point. This means that you should also consider the resale potential of the homes among which you choose. If there are meaningful challenges with a given home which are unlikely to change over time, it’s probable that those same issues may impact another buyer’s attitude toward the home in the future. So buy wisely.
Approach the process of buying a home with enthusiasm, knowing that the minor anxieties and excitement which are inevitable will, with proper planning, be replaced by the pleasure of the search and an outcome you’ll enjoy for a long time to come.