The perfect home isn’t as hard to find as you think! Follow these seven suggestions for a smoother home buying process.
Figure out which kind of home will best suit your personality and lifestyle. Is one story enough for your family? Do you prefer classic architecture or a modern design? Can you handle a fixer-upper yourself, or would you need help from a contractor? You should also decide which features are essential and which you could live without.
Before you start looking at specific properties, limit your search to three or four neighborhoods you’d be happy to live in. Think about your commute, schools, entertainment, walkability, and crime in the area. Once you’ve decided on a few good neighborhoods, check realtor.com to see which homes are in your price range.
Don’t make an offer without taking a thorough account of your financial situation. Most lenders say you can afford a home priced at 2-3x your gross income, but are these numbers right for you? Create a budget to determine how much you’ll be comfortable paying each month, then meet with a lender to receive a prequalification letter describing how much you can borrow. Lenders won’t always consider extra personal expenses or your other financial needs (for example, planning to start a family), so think carefully about your future.
Have you sold your current home yet? Will it take time to fix blemishes on your credit report? Do you think interest rates will go up soon? Prepare for time-sensitive factors that may affect your home buying journey.
Think beyond your immediate needs when you’re looking for a home. Is this just a starter house you plan to move out of in a few years, or will you be here for at least a decade? For a starter, you may need to reset your expectations. If you want to stay long-term, be sure the home and neighborhood will keep you happy for a good while.
It’s okay to be particular about a neighborhood or the type of home you want, but set realistic expectations and try to keep an open mind. Your absolute favorite home might not be available, but the one with a few minor flaws just down the road could end up being perfect for you. On the other hand, don’t fall in love with a single feature and become blind to other serious concerns. You may be obsessed with the patio, but you won’t find it very relaxing if airplanes are constantly flying overhead. Take a holistic look at every option, and remember that no home is perfect.
It’s natural to seek reassurance when you’re making a big financial decision, but if you ask too many people at once, you could be pulled in a lot of different directions. Seek advice from just one or two people per issue, and don’t lose sight of your personal priorities.
If you do some careful planning and manage your expectations, you’ll land a great home in no time. Let your loan officer know how they can help you with your search.