By Dixie Somers
Being a first time homebuyer can be an intimidating prospect; it seems like there's so much to learn! The process doesn't get less challenging the second or third time around, but here are five tips to help you research and prepare for your next home buying experience.
Location, Location, Location
It's a cliché but it's true: location really is the most important part of the real estate equation. However, the right location isn't the same for everyone. Take your family's priorities into account and know where you would buy a home, and where you would not. Try to be flexible, but if you're longing for a place with a yard, then a balcony might not cut it, however a roof deck might! Always look for the exception to the rule. It's also a good idea to compare home prices around the home that you're considering. This will help you figure out if your house is a good deal and in line with the market expectations.
Find Your Financing
Finding the perfect house can take years, but once you find it things will move quickly. Most real estate markets are fast moving and a great house at a great price can easily go on the market in the morning and be under contract by the evening. When you find that house you have to be ready to jump on it. This means that you should have your financing figured out before you make an offer. Ask friends, family, any law or finance professionals your family uses, or ask your REALTOR® for a recommendation for a mortgage company. Be sure to get quotes from several different firms so you have a general idea of what your rates really should be.
Understand the Vocabulary
You should take the trouble to educate yourself about some of the jargon that comes with the real estate territory, otherwise, you might find yourself completely out of your league when discussing purchasing terms.
Check out the Neighborhood
If you're looking for homes outside of the neighborhood you live in, the best way to get a feel for it is to go and spend the day there. Find a few open houses you're interested in and go make a day of it. Have lunch, stroll the streets, check out the parks, schools, and find out what kind of people live there. These are the things that give a neighborhood its flavor, and things that you can't know until you go there and see for yourself.
Choose a Trustworthy Agent
A real estate agent can make or break your home buying experience. If you don't have an agent you already know and like, ask for recommendations, check local ratings sites and ask around. This can be a very personal relationship, so if you find an agent you believe in, hang on to them!
Buying a home is an exciting and stressful process, but with these tips, we hope you'll have a great experience researching, shopping and purchasing your next home.