Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or about to buy your fourth property, you never want to rush blindly through the home buying process. Many people tend to let their excitement and emotions take over…tossing caution, and logic, to the wind.
The bottom line is: this is a big decision and not one to be taken lightly. Here’s a quick list of dos and don’ts for you, the homebuyer.
DO Your Research
Before you even start your search for the perfect home, take the time to sit down and figure out what that perfect home looks like to YOU. Are you looking for a two-story house? A single-family? A townhome? How important is the yard to you? Are you looking for an HOA or trying to avoid one? New construction or historic classic? Involve all major influences in your decision and come up with a solid list of your non-negotiables and also what you can do without. For instance, you may absolutely need a two-car garage, but you can do with only two bathrooms instead of three. Once you are armed with your search criteria, study the real estate market. Identify areas that you are interested in and contact a real estate agent to help you narrow things down.
DO Take a Look at Your Finances
So you’ve found the perfect property? Great. But can you pay for it? You definitely need to have a good handle on your financial situation and what you CAN afford before you hit the search button. Don’t let your eyes get better than your wallet. You not only need to know your overall budget, but how you plan on making payments as well. The good news is, there are a lot of options for you. You’ll want to speak with a qualified lender and get preapproved for your mortgage early on. Also, don’t forget about those down payments! You’ll likely need to put a chunk of money down to get the ball rolling.
DO Some Negotiating
Or at least have your real estate agent do it for you. Don’t let the idea of negotiating scare you. A qualified agent should be able to guide you through the process and understand what’s reasonable and what isn’t. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t wait too long to start the negotiation process, particularly in a hot market. Remain confident in your decision and try not to hesitate.
DON’T Try to Do It Alone
If you haven’t guessed it yet, having a real estate agent by your side makes things a whole lot easier. Buying a home can be a very challenging thing, especially for first-time homebuyers. When you do find your dream home you will have to navigate through things like home inspections, sewer and plumbing conditions, zoning laws, etc. Real estate agents are there to research the subject property and help you make the most educated decision that you can.
DON’T Underestimate Home Improvement Costs
So you’ve watched your fair share of HGTV and you feel like you can handle a house in need of some TLC. Think twice. Or rather, research it twice. Take the time to speak with a qualified contractor and collect estimates of what it would cost to fix up your fixer upper before you decide to dive head first into a project you can’t swim out of. It’s also a good idea to add an extra 10% or so of a financial buffer for those unexpected costs. If you’re still feeling comfortable with the price, you can go forth educated on the full cost.
DON’T Rush the Process
“But this house is so perfectly staged and it has good curb appeal and that corner in the backyard is just PERFECT for my vegetable garden!”
Hold on there, Charlie!
It is WAY too easy to get caught up on the idea of a perfect home and fail to notice important items, like a sinking foundation for instance. Definitely more important than your vegetable garden. You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, didn’t you say that I shouldn’t hesitate though?” Well you’re right. While you don’t want to sit around kicking tires hoping a magical sign will come down from the sky to tell you this is the perfect house, you don’t want to simply do a quick overview and buy based on a “good feeling” either. The point is, don’t settle for a home or feel pressured to buy if you don’t have the time to do your research and speak with a real estate agent. Once you do that and you still feel good about the house, you can confidently have your agent move forward with the process.
Have more questions about the home buying process or feel ready to talk with an agent today? Contact us at MD Home Team and we’ll steer you in the right direction!