So you’ve decided it’s time to make the big move (literally and figuratively) and buy a house. Congratulations! Owning a home is rewarding in so many ways, and is considered one large part of the American dream.
Before you start driving around finding for-sale signs or googling homes for sale, let’s get a game plan together to make the process meaningful and more enjoyable.
Step #1: Get a Pre-Approval
Skipping this step is not an option. A pre-approval shows a potential seller that you are capable of purchasing their property. Without it, it’s just your word. Not only does it make the sellers take you seriously, but it also helps you know how much house you can and actually want to afford. What do I mean? I mean your pre-approval may show that you qualify to purchase a $600,000 home, but it may also make you realize that you only want, or are comfortable with the monthly payment of a $450,000 home. In that case, you will know not to waste your time looking at $600,000 homes.
Step #2: Decide What You Want.
How can you look for something if you don’t know what it is you’re looking for? Sure, you have some ideas, but often I see buyers who are torn between two very different types of properties. For example, they don’t want an HOA and want a minimum of one acre, but also love the convenience of a subdivision where common areas are maintained for them and where there are amenities included in their fees. This situation sets the tone for a house-hunt that’s stressful, frustrating, and overwhelming with too many choices.
Other examples include husbands and wives who want two different things. He wants to be on a lake, she wants to acreage for horses. This scenario will no doubt end up stressful, frustrating, and tense for both the buyers, and the real estate professional.
What to do in these situations? Before embarking on a house-hunting trip, each decision maker should make a list of their top 5 must haves, then their top 5 wants. Compare lists and common goals, and decide what your united priorities are.
Step #3: Hire a Real Estate Professional
As a buyer, you don’t pay any commissions to a Realtor. The real estate professional fees are paid for by the seller. So why not have someone representing your best interests? Be sure to select a professional who asks questions to get to the bottom of your goals and needs, who listens to your desires, who is knowledgeable in your market area, and who has an extensive list of resources in their network.
Be sure to be specific with your Realtor. After all, even the most discerning and experienced professional won’t know that you require the front door to face the west, a minimum of 3 car garage spaces, or that you will allow a maximum of 2 entrances into the house if you don’t tell them. Don’t be afraid to make all of these qualities known before the first showing. Your Realtor will appreciate that you know what you want, and that you aren’t wasting their time by viewing 5 of the wrong houses before letting them know.
Step #4: Be Open to the Possibilities
I know, I just said be specific about what you want. But, if say, a fence is a priority, don’t eliminate all properties that don’t include a fence, but rather make your professional aware that you want a fence, then they can show you properties that otherwise meet all your criteria and that fall within your budget to allow a little extra cash after closing to install a brand new fence of your choice.
The same goes for other qualities in the home you’re searching for. Try to see past the shag carpet or the Pepto-Bismol colored bathroom tile and look at the big picture. If it meets all our other must-haves, and if the renovations aren’t enough to blow your budget, then maybe it’s worth considering choosing that home and making it to your taste after closing.
If you’ve conquered these 4 hurdles , you are well on your way to finding the right home for you, and enjoying the process along the way. After all, this may well be the biggest investment you will ever make! So don’t stumble through the process, use your game plan and make it happen!
You may also be interested in: