Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you tired of paying high rental rates?
- Are you ready to define your space outside of what your landlord will allow with paint, landscaping, etc.?
- Are you ready to start paying for a home that you can call your own?
If you answered “yes” to the above questions, you may be in the market to get your own piece of the “American Dream” by owning your own home. But where do you start?
Buying a home can be an intimidating process, but with the right agent it can be a smooth, rewarding experience! Here are a few points to consider when starting your home-buying search:
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
This is very important, because it will give you a clear picture of how much house you can afford. Getting pre-approved will help you and your agent find your dream home without showing you places that are outside of your budget. It will also give you peace of mind knowing that you are, in fact, financially ready to purchase your own home. If you are unable to get pre-approved for a mortgage at this time, this process will give you insight into the steps you need to take to correct your credit and rebuild your finances. A good buyers agent and mortgage lender should be willing to advise you on how to improve your finances so you can get pre-approved in the future.
2. Property Value
Once you’re pre-approved and you and your agent have found a home which you are considering, it’s time to assess the home’s value. Ask your agent to pull comparables or “comps” on the property. This will give you a look into other recent sales in the area of similar houses. This is a vital step that will show you how much the home is worth. It can also help you see the home’s value in comparison to the listing price the sellers have set. If your agent avoids this process after your request, you may want to consider finding a different agent.
3. Property Condition
Once you’ve decided on a home to purchase, the next step is identifying the condition of the property. Ask your agent to provide any disclosures the sellers have provided on their home. Review these carefully for any items that may be damaged or not functioning properly. Also, ask your agent to refer a professional home inspector to obtain a detailed assessment of the home’s condition. Based on these findings, you can tweak the price of your offer and rest easy knowing what you’re paying for.
4. Cost of Living
Find out if there is a Homeowners Association (HOA), if there are fees and how much they are. This, factored in with any repairs or upgrades you will need to make on the home, utility costs for the area, property taxes and homeowners insurance can greatly affect your monthly payments. Ask your agent to identify/estimate these costs for you so you can get a more definite number of what you will actually be paying every month.
5. Location, Location, Location
Review the neighborhood’s crime rates and school report cards. If the neighborhood is riddled with crime, you could run the risk of increasing your homeowners insurance rates from claims of theft or damage to your home. Take time to drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day. Look for any trends of suspicious activity, both day and night. Although school districts may not seem important, they are, even if you do not have children. if you ever decide to sell your home and the school district is not ideal, you could lose out on numerous potential buyers and/or money from a future sale.
6. Offering the “Right” Amount
After you have reviewed and considered all of the above options, take a good look at the home’s list price. Ask yourself the following:
- Is the home within your budget? Can you afford the monthly mortgage payment?
- Is the home priced right in relation to the neighborhood comps?
- Can you afford to do any repairs or upgrades if you need to?
- Are the HOA fees, taxes, insurance and utility costs financially manageable?
- Is the location safe and ideal? Will the location hold or increase its value should you decide to sell?
If you can answer “yes” to the above, you may want to consider offering asking price. If your research finds the value differing from the asking price, discuss modifying your offer price to something different. Remember, offering too little could offend the sellers and have them reject your offer altogether. Be prepared to offer an amount that meets your needs without insulting the sellers. A good agent will help guide you in the right offer amount so you can begin the journey of home ownership!
If you’re ready to start your own search for the perfect home, consider Team George Weeks! We have a firm commitment to our clients to provide good service with integrity and honesty. We work for YOU. Our goal is to provide you with the best service so we will be the last real estate professional you will ever need!