1. Budgeting for Home Ownership
As the largest and likely most important purchase you'll ever make, home ownership requires careful budgeting. This includes planning not only for a down payment and a monthly mortgage, but also taxes, repairs, and other costs through the life of the home. You'll have to hire at least one inspector and appraiser before making an offer, then be prepared to pay 2-4% of your mortgage in closing costs. After the move, you’ll have to pay property taxes, which can rise over time. You'll also need insurance, possibly a homeowners association membership, and certainly utilities. Budgeting for routine maintenance and repairs is also prudent. Even with these costs, when making a "smart" purchase with the help of an outstanding real estate professional, homeownership is often a sound financial investment. To learn more about how to prepare, contact me for a private consultation.
2. Professional Help When Buying a Home
Working with a real estate agent is essential to getting the best price on your home, but that's not the only professional you'll want to find. Many home buyers find it useful to talk to several mortgage brokers to ensure they get the fairest rate and payment plan. If you're planning significant renovations, a contractor that you trust can help keep your improvement dreams alive. Even if you want the home as is, you’ll need an inspector and appraiser to give you an assessment of the true value and hazards of the home. Finally, to guide you through the paperwork, you may need a real estate lawyer, which many states now require by law. When you're ready to start building those connections, reach out to me for a private consultation.
3. Evaluating Re-Sale Potential
When buying a home, you don't always think about the selling it. Yet a typical home buyer will stay put for a little over ten years, then move on to greener pastures. What your once-new home will be worth at that point depends on its location, structure, and condition, among other things. Ideally, the home will be situated in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, yet be close to roads, shopping, schools, and other attractions. Inside, the layout and structure are key. More bedrooms mean more value, as well as additions and amenities desired in your geographic area, like pools, enclosed porches or patios, etc. High quality construction materials can keep it as good as new with only minimal maintenance while you own the home. Contact me to discuss a potential home's value to you and to your future buyers.
4. Buying a Fixer-Upper
You may not be a true home flipper, but you may be willing to invest a little TLC into a needy home. This could be a great money saving idea or a huge mistake. If the changes are superficial, such as repainting and even retiling, a motivated buyer can be successful. If electrical or foundation repairs are needed, that’s likely best left to the professionals. Be realistic about the amount of time you can invest and when you want to have the redone areas of your home ready for use. A home inspection can reveal fairly accurately how much you'll need to change to have your dream home, so plan on fixing all the problems the inspection turns up before embarking on a large upgrade. Contact me for a private consultation to estimate what you can invest both in money and time.
5. Buying in Winter
When there's a chance of snow and chilly weather, fewer buyers are touring homes, meaning home sellers are often more apt to close at a lower price. Take advantage of the time with careful home evaluation. As you walk through a home, listen for the sound of the heating system. If it turns on several times during your tour, the home is likely losing heat, indicating poor insulation or drafty doors and windows. You also can, and should, ask to see recent utility bills to get a sense of how much it will cost to keep your family comfortable during the chilliest months. Drive through the neighborhood the day after it snows to get a sense of how quickly the roads are plowed and driveways shoveled. For more ideas on what to look for, contact me for a private consultation.
6. Buying in a Fast Market
In many areas, homes are spending only two weeks on the market before being swept up by an interested buyer. It's time to act fast, but not hastily. Before you begin to look at homes, talk to a mortgage broker about getting preapproved for a loan. When you find the home you want, you can make a reasonable offer without waiting on the bank. Skip low-ball offers completely, as these will be dismissed compared to the other quick offers. As much as possible, try to look past cosmetic defects in a home. Landscaping and a new coat of paint are easy beauty fixes. Contact me so that I can keep an eye on MLS listings, letting you know about new properties you may be interested in before they are even posted on public sites.
7. How to Lose a Preapproval Offer
Damaging your credit worthiness is easier than most people imagine. Before you apply for a home loan, you've likely worked on increasing your credit score, but after you are pre-approved for a loan, a bank can still revoke their offer. This means things like buying a car or furniture on credit can cost you a home deal. Anything that increases the amount you owe puts your potential loan in jeopardy, including co-signing on someone else's loan. Banks also look carefully at your accounts, so unusual deposits or withdrawals are red flags that indicate you may not be as financially reliable as they thought. Similarly, job changes are dangerous, so work to close your new home deal before making any major changes. For more tips, contact me for a private consultation.
8. Buying a Neighborhood
When you buy a new home, you're purchasing more than the plot of land and house. You're also buying into the community surrounding your home. Before choosing an area, step back and evaluate what you value. Do you want to be near local nightlife? Parks and family oriented places? How far are you willing to commute? Do you want neighborhood parties or neighbors that leave you alone? When you’ve found a likely home, talk to the neighbors to see what the area's really like. Look up crime statistics. Visit the neighborhood at different times, including during the day, the evening, and at rush hour. You may find your little oasis has some hidden faults. Contact me for a private consultation and an in depth look into different local neighborhoods.
9. Skipping Buyer's Stress
Buying a home is an emotional and anxiety ridden process. Even after finding a home and making an offer, you'll worriedly wait by the phone for the seller's response. Ready to take some of the stress out? Start by scheduling a private consultation with me. Rather than having you wait in the dark, we'll talk through what the home buying process entails and what reasonable timelines for each step are. Knowing what is happening behind the scenes will help calm your nerves. While the seller considers, you can focus on other things like packing your home or just spending time with the family. Or you can opt to strategize for various outcomes. We can decide what our immediate response will be to each of the seller’s possible actions. That way, the lag time is minimized. Contact me to start the process and get answers to those nagging questions.