Tips for Buying a Home

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments many people will make in their lifetimes. Knowing this can make the home buying process intimidating, especially when you consider that you are looking for a place to call home. REALTORS® understand this and can guide you through the process of finding your dream home.

Define your goals and search criteria

Work with your REALTOR® to decide what you want before beginning the hunt for a home. It is okay if you are not exactly sure what your ideal home is — your REALTOR® can help shed light on what you and your family may need. Write down features and qualities that are important to you in a home. You and your REALTOR® will work together to prioritize them and hone your search. Be aware that your preferences might change as you look at houses for sale; if this happens, you and your REALTOR® can simply make adjustments to the list.

Obtain the necessary paperwork

Before you start your search, your REALTOR® can help you choose a reputable mortgage company and obtain the documents needed to purchase your new home. You will want to get a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter from your mortgage company, as well as a truth in lending statement. The pre-approval letter gives your REALTOR® more negotiating power when placing an offer on real estate, and the lending statement will give you an estimate of the mortgage and other closing costs. Be sure to ask when the interest rate quote on the lending statement expires so your REALTOR® knows the timeframe for closing the deal.

Consider the neighborhood

Form a check list of the amenities your ideal neighborhood would have. Popular features include pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, large lot sizes, low crime rate, public facilities such as parks and community centers, convenient transportation and wellmaintained yards of homes in the area. Be sure to discuss your preferences with your REALTOR® so he or she can provide the information you need to make your decision.

Bring a camera

It is helpful to have some way of documenting what you like and do not like about the homes you tour. After all, it can be difficult to remember the specific features of each home after you have reviewed multiple properties. Your REALTOR® also serves as an extra set of eyes and will share what he or she sees with you.

Choose your favorite property

Call it “REALTOR® intuition,” but often REALTORS® know when clients have found their dream home before their clients do. Each REALTOR® has his or her own process to help you pick the perfect piece of real estate. The most common steps include:

Rating each property

As your REALTOR® shows you different houses for sale, rate each property on a scale of 1 to 10. Use the goals and search criteria that you and your REALTOR® established in your initial meeting to determine which areas carry the most weight in your decision.

Noting the neighborhoods

Rate the neighborhood of property, as well. You may want to include features such as schools in the area or amenities within the community in your ranking system.

Combining your lists

Once you have established your ranking for each home and neighborhood, combine the two lists and see which properties meet your needs on both accounts.

Narrowing your search

It is likely that after viewing multiple properties, there will be several homes that stand out in your mind. Narrow your search to the five most attractive homes and revisit only those homes with your REALTOR®.

Preparing a final rating

After the final visits to your five top choices, rate each property one last time. By the end of the day, you should have a favorite. Your REALTOR® can then help you make an offer and begin the negotiating process.

Making an offer

It is normal for first-time buyers to be concerned that they are paying too much for their home. Rest assured that your REALTOR® understands current market conditions and can tell you whether the price is appropriate. As your representative, he or she can negotiate in your best interest.

Take your time

Be sure to give yourself adequate time to carefully execute the home search process. Listen to your REALTOR®’S advice and avoid rushing to make a decision. It is easy to get excited about buying real estate and want to do so quickly, but keep in mind the importance of finding a house and neighborhood that suit your lifestyle.