Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.
Get your finances in order.
Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you find. Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-approved for a loan. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house.
Find a house you can afford.
As with engagement rings, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home: two-and-a-half times your annual salary. There are also a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, etc.
Hire a professional.
Interview a few agents and pick one to exclusively represent you in a geographic area. Having three agents handling you in one town or a market area is complete chaos.
Engage an Agent to Negotiate for You.
It is a bad idea to walk into an open house and start negotiating with a listing broker, thinking you will get a better deal because you are dealing directly with the listing agent. As you are not represented, you are not going to get a better deal. You are far better off having a Realtor represent YOU. That agent owes their fiduciary to you and no one else. When you deal with a listing agent directly, that agent is acting as a “Dual Agent,” and, as such, represents both the seller and you. Wouldn’t you rather have someone representing you exclusively?
Think long term.
Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should buy in a neighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.