The decision to become a homeowner can be both exciting and overwhelming. While there is a wealth of information online regarding buying a home, the large numbers of websites and articles may make it difficult to know where to begin.
Instead of getting bogged down with the small details, focus on the big picture: what you’re looking for, what you can afford, and what actions you need to take. This list gives you 10 initial steps that will minimize confusion and help you get into the home you’ve always wanted.
- Choose a realtor. Before you ever look at homes for sale, you need a realtor to guide you through the process. He or she will help you find a property that meets your needs (and your budget).
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Far too many home sales fall through because the buyer is unable to secure financing at the last minute. By visiting your bank or lender ahead of time, you’ll know where you stand before you ever make an offer.
- Determine your price range. Often, potential homeowners qualify for far more mortgage than they can comfortably afford. No matter what amount you are pre-approved to borrow, you need to determine what price makes sense for your family.
- Make a list of must-haves. Do you need 3 bedrooms? A huge kitchen? A short commute to work? Listing what you really need in a home will streamline the viewing process and keep you from wasting time looking at houses that don’t meet your needs.
- Scour local newspapers and realtor websites. Did you know that your realtor can show homes that are listed with a different realtor or company? You aren’t limited to the houses under contract with the realty company you’re working with.
- Ask about foreclosures. With so many homes in foreclosure, this is a great time to look for homes that may be lender-owned and for sale at a discount. Most banks have a list of homes that are currently for sale; all you have to do is ask.
- Look, look some more, and ask questions. Remember that most homes are staged to look their best. Be sure to look inside attics, basements, and closets. Ask about the age of the roof, heating and cooling system, and any appliances.
- Made an offer? Keep looking. Even once you’ve put in an offer on a house, it’s important to keep searching. Your offer could be rejected, or a home inspection could reveal issues you didn’t see before. Let the search continue until a seller has accepted your offer and the inspection is complete.
- When in doubt, ask your realtor. Aside from showing homes, your realtor is trained to answer any and all questions you have about the purchase process. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you’re unsure what to do next.
- Don’t rush. Just as homes aren’t built overnight, the decision to buy one shouldn’t be made hastily either. Take plenty of time to make sure you’re making the right choice for your family. Think about the long-term implications of home ownership and how it aligns with your other goals for the future.