A Gift for Buyers: Stuff Your Stocking with Advice
The top 10 buying tips
2. Find a good agent. Don't just use a friend or family member, or someone you run into regularly at your kid's school. Do some research, and find who can benefit you and your specific needs most. (www.lindasecrist.com )
Just be sure the agent sells real estate full time, so he can respond quickly ( www.lindasecrist.com.) Ask the agent for the names of buyers he has helped in the past six months. If the agent can't come up with several, you should keep looking.
3. Set a budget and get preapproved by a lender. It is important to know what you can afford and what a comfortable monthly payment would be. Some homebuyers learn the hard way that they can qualify for more than they can comfortably afford to pay.Getting a preapproval before starting shopping for a home is also a must. That way, when you see a house you like, you're ready. And we do mean preapproved, which means submitting pay stubs and tax returns, not prequalified, which is more of a cursory estimate.
4. Check out the neighborhood just as carefully as you check out the house. Once you find that home that you really like, drive by that house at several times during the day and during different days of the week to really gauge the type of neighborhood you are buying into.
5. Be ready to pull the trigger when you see the perfect home. The supply of for-sale housing is limited in many parts of the country, and that means good houses go quickly.
Buyers need to be alert and ready to sign when they see a keeper, which means being organized and having their financing in order.
You don't want to be so busy worrying about getting a 'good deal' or negotiating small deal points that we miss the opportunity to buy the house we want.
6. Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Spend the money on any and all inspections that are suggested in the primary home inspection -- and for heaven's sake, please don't forget to get an inspection before you buy. Some buyers skip this step, because the house looks OK and because they figure they are getting a home warranty, so why worry? But often this doesn't cover all of the property's problems. The amount you could end up spending in the long run because of a defect you didn't know about is far greater than the expense of having a professional come out and take a look before you buy.
7. Buy the cake, not the icing. You can change the paint, paper, carpet and fixtures fairly easily, but you can't readily change the home's layout, size of the rooms or location. Look past the cosmetics to the bones of the house. And think about resale. While a one-bedroom home may fit you just fine, how easy will it be to sell five years from now? Likewise, will that extremely busy street be a turn-off for others?
8. Get on the same page with your spouse. Discuss things! So many times, couples have a hard time agreeing on a house because they're not exactly sure what they want. Know what you must-have and would-like-to-have early in the process. Both spouses should sit down and make their own lists and then get together and see what they agree on and where they differ and talk this through. This will save a lot of time and arguments down the road.
9. Know the landscape. Once a home that looks interesting comes up on the multiple listing service, you need to consult with your agent and do some research. How many homes are on the market in the blocks around it? How long have they been on the market? What condition are they in? What's in escrow? What have houses nearby sold for in the past 90 days? These questions will help buyers recognize a good deal when they see it.
10. Don't get emotional. Don't stretch your budget just because you love a home. Think like an investor and tell yourself, 'There will be others out there for me.' It's alot like dating, You need to know what else is available, rather than falling in love with the first one. Think with your head, not your heart!
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