12 must-know tips for everything from finding a real estate agent to prepping your finances
- Make sure youíre ready to buy, both emotionally and especially financially. If you expect to relocate in a few years, this may not be the right time for you to buy. If you donít have cash for a down payment, closing costs and other expenses, you may be better off waiting. Study your life, your career, your finances and your future expectations, and determine whether buying a house is the right move at this time.
- The difference between deals that close and deals that donít are the professionals involved.
You want a mortgage professional lined up before you start looking.
The finance company is a very important link to closing on time.
Find the right Real Estate person(s) to assist you. You want to make sure you find a Real Estate Agent who will move quickly when a new listing that suits your needs goes on the market, as well as an Agent who will advise you honestly.
- Get your finances in order first. Some Real Estate Agents wonít even show homes to prospective clients who donít have a mortgage pre-approval. You definitely should meet with a mortgage broker or banker (better yet, several) at the start of the process to find out how much house you can afford and how much cash youíll need to close.
Do all the math yourself as well. Just because a bank says you can borrow $200,000 doesnít mean you should. If you have credit issues, realize that this part of the process could take several months.
- Calculate each and every cost. The purchase price and the mortgage payment are just the beginning. Donít forget homeowner or condo fees, homeowners insurance and real estate taxes. Plus, youíll need to budget for utilities, repairs and maintenance.
- Donít spend all your cash. Avoid emptying your bank account for your down payment and closing costs. There will always be unexpected repairs. Plus, it costs money to move, put down utility deposits, change locks and buy things you never needed before, like furniture or appliances.
- When you look at houses, focus on the right things. Donít be distracted by the ownerís odd dťcor,
paint colors, dirty carpet or anything that is easy to change. As a matter of fact they could be great negotiating factors. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are easy to add later.
On the other hand, you cannot easily add another bedroom, a better location or a more functional floor plan.
- If you're buying in a condo or homeowners association or a townhouse especially in a gated community, know the rules. How your association is run can make a big difference in how much you enjoy life in a development. Youíll want to know about all rules and restrictions, from pet ownership to who can use the pool. Condo buyers also want to investigate the associationís finances because a poorly run association can mean big assessments later.
- As mentioned at the beginning, visit your favorite neighborhoods at different times. Most neighborhoods are quiet in the middle of the day. You need to see what the area is like on a Friday or Saturday night. Are there kids and such all out driving with music blasting? Whatís it like in rush hour in the morning or in the evening?
- Talk to the neighbors. Ask about the neighborhood and about the hous(es) youíre considering. The neighbors will know if there are any problems or issues. Theyíll also know about the pipe borne water and sewerage situation,
barking dogs, petty crime and the size of utility bills.
Consider a home inspection by a qualified Builder before making a purchase offer.
- To get a mortgage you'll have to do a valuation on the property. In the ideal scenario, approval of your mortgage depends on a valuation (appraisal) that equals the purchase price. So it is advised to get a valuation done by a by the mortgage company approved Valuator before making an offer. That way you never end up with an unpleasant surprise and the valuation can also be used by the mortgage company.
- Be ready to move quickly once you find the home you want. Good homes that are well-priced nearly always sell quickly. Itís OK to take some time to think before you make an offer, but you might not want to wait a few weeks. Your agent can provide invaluable advice here.
- No existing house will be perfect, so you have to be willing to compromise? Therefore it is important to know whatís important to you. If you want a specific school district, are you willing to accept a smaller house? If you want to be near the water, could you be happy with a Townhouse? Are you willing to accept a longer commute to be closer to the town centre?
I hope these tips were in any way useful to assist you with the purchase of your first home.
All the best and Good Luck.
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