First and foremost… Meet with a mortgage lender and find out how much you can get approved to buy!
Knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more open to accepting your contract when you have been pre-approved. You’ll also avoid being disappointed by shopping for houses above your price range. With a Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, as long as the home you’re interested in is at or less than the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for their property.
List of Needs & Wants
Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would love to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
Representation by a Professional
Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller. This is at no cost to you and the agent works solely for you the buyer.
Focus & Organization
Keep your list handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
- In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home.
- A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper.
- Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search.
- Instant or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings.
- Location: How is the school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and are there any negatives (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) What are some great features of the area? Parks
Visualize the house empty & with your decor
Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light? Does your furniture fit?
Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don’t make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don’t forget such essentials as:
- Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
- Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
- Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
- You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please email me or call me directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.