1. Be Selective, but don’t be unrealistic – No home is perfect. Look for location, price, and condition and realize you can usually have two out of the three.
2. Do your own research before you begin your search – Decide what is important on your wish list. What you must have and what you want to have will be of different importance.
3. Get your finances in order – Go over your comfort financial zone. Figure out how much you have to put down on a home, including your closing costs, which usually run 4-5 percent of the loan amount.
4. Get Pre-approved, not just Pre-Qualified – Sit down with a lender, review your credit and provide them with the information needed so they can provide you with the amount you can afford.
5. Don’t get too many opinions – Select one or two people to turn to for a second opinion or it may be overwhelming.
6. Decide when a move is right for you – Are you renting? When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? Are you relocating? Are you starting a new job?
7. Think long-term – Is a starter house what you are looking for? Or a home to grow into? Your answer will determine which type of home you will be searching for, along with which mortgage type is best for you.
8. Be realistic in your affordability – Don’t let yourself be “house poor”. You will need money each month for maintenance, decorating, and possible renovations or just to save for the future.
9. Hire a home inspector – It is worth $450-$500. Home inspectors go over the house from top to bottom and explain the ins and outs. You will receive a complete inspection report with items to be addressed now and in the future.
10. Hire a REALTOR – Agents work for the seller unless hired by the buyer. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a Certified Buyer Representative is working for you and their fiduciary responsibility is to the buyer. Many buyers working with a real estate agent assume they are working for them. Agents owe honesty and fairness to Buyer Customers and many buyers choose to work that way and not enter into a contractual agreement with the agent.