Home Buying Tips
Whether you are a first time home-buyer or a seasoned home owner, it is best to start by asking yourself a few questions before you begin the process. Outlining your priorities for your new home is a good place to start. Think about everything from neighborhood, property type, architectural style to what you are comfortable with financially. Make a checklist and start researching. When you're ready to dive in, contact an agent.
Consider the Right Type of Property for Your Lifestyle
Dogs, Kids, Commute Time, Maintenance, Single or Multi-story...These are just a few of the items most buyers consider.
Many people harbor secret fears about buying a home, and some of those fears are justified. Take a good look at your lifestyle and the direction you are headed in the next few years. Think about how much time and money you can afford to maintain your home.
Be aware of sleeper costs. Sleeper costs are expenses beyond your mortgage payment. These may include property taxes, utilities and home-owner association dues. New homeowners need to also be prepared to pay for repairs and maintenance and possible increases in property taxes. Make sure that you consider all the possibilities that may arise.
Organize Your Financing & Consider Pre-Approval
Line up your financing, set aside a down payment and study the loan programs available. By doing your homework, you will know exactly how much you can pay and what it will cost you. Many mortgage brokers can prequalify you over the phone or online.
It is also important to be conscious of how much you move money around before buying a new home. Avoid large purchases three to six months before you begin looking at real estate. Lenders will review every transaction to ensure that you are reliable. Opening new credit cards, making too many big-ticket purchases and accruing debt will make it difficult to acquire a loan.
Get pre-approved for a loan. Anyone can get pre-qualified, but having pre-approval means that a lender has reviewed all of your financial information and confirmed how much you can afford and what they will lend you. Being pre-approved will save you time in the home-buying process by targeting your search to homes that you can afford. It will also make the process easier when you are ready to make an offer. A pre-approval letter can give you an advantage when there are multiple offers on a home.
Engage with a Real Estate Professional
With so much information available online, you might wonder why you need an agent at all. The home buying process can become a part-time job ranging from finding available homes, presenting and negotiating offers and reviewing lengthy contracts. Real estate agents usually have a vast network of trusted resources in the industry ranging from staging experts to contractors and home inspectors.
Plus, all local markets vary from one another, and a good agent can guide you by giving you information based on experience and market knowledge.
The current Seattle area market is especially challenging for buyers and often times requires several offers being written before an acceptance. A knowledgeable and professional agent with strong industry relationships can prove to be a great advantage.
Remember, You Cannot Change Location
Old real estate rules are still very applicable. If you are undecided on a real estate purchase, remember location is always the strongest driving factor for future home appreciation.
Frequent the neighborhood throughout the day and night. Are you comfortable with the neighborhood, and can you see yourself living there?
Check out what your commute time will be if you were to move to the property to see if you can live with it.
Check the close by essentials – grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, libraries, recreational areas.
Check out the local schools – proximity to highly rated schools may even affect the value of the property.
Make an Offer & Negotiate with a
Professional on Your Side
Buying a home is different from any other purchase. Go with your instincts versus your emotions. Remember that you are making an investment – Instead of obsessing over paint colors, remain level-headed and find a great house for a good value.
Your opening bid should be based on what you can afford and what you truly believe a property is worth. An opening bid should be fair and not so below asking price to offend the seller. Be aware of the temperature of the market when bidding. For example, you may not want go much below the asking price if properties tend to receive multiple offers and you really want a property. You may also wish to use an escalation clause in a hot market with homes expected to receive multiple offers on a review date.
Educate yourself about the neighborhood – what are other homes valued? Are there any recent comparable properties? Are there any development plans in the works? Think of all the influencing factors that may swing the value of the property.
Get Up Close & Personal with the Home
Hire a home inspector.
When you find a property that you think you can call home, don’t forget to get a full inspection. Hidden problems may creep up and turn your dream home into a money pit. A good home inspector may costs a few hundred bucks, but it may end up saving you thousands.
The role of a home inspector is to provide you with detailed information about all aspects of the property, and to provide you with an unbiased opinion. If any issues are found, you may be able to use the findings as a bargaining tool with the seller to lower the purchase price or to make the repairs.
Closing TIme, Start Preparing for Your Big Move
Preparation is key. Most homes close within 30-60 days, which can feel like a short time to move your entire life.
Start thinking about all of the essentials that will be needed before you move in. If you are planning any repairs or modifications to the property, engage with the needed contractors and start requesting bids. Once you have secured the right contractors, start scheduling the work. Depending on the time of year, work schedules may fill up quickly.
Set up all of the utilities that you will need well before closing. If the utility company has not received a cancellation notice from the seller, contact the seller and let them know to do so. In most cases, the title company will notify the utilities of the transfer of the property.
Start contacting businesses and others to notify them of your change in address. In most cases, this can all be done online. You will also want to submit your change in address and request forwarding from the postal service.