Last week, we shared with you the first five steps to get ready to buy your first home. From checking your credit profile to attending a homebuyer seminar, these tasks are critical to complete before starting your home search.
After you’ve completed those steps, here’s what you need to do next.
Interview real estate agents. Your most important partner when buying a home is a trusted real estate agent who can help you find a home, evaluate the pros and cons of different properties, negotiate for you and protect your interests. Talk to a few real estate agents to find someone with whom you are comfortable and who is knowledgeable about your local market.
Explore neighborhoods. While some buyers know exactly where they want to live, you don’t always find the perfect home in your preferred neighborhood. Look online to find neighborhoods similar to what you want and check them out on the weekends to see what you think about local amenities, commuting distances, schools and the homes. You can also explore communities on the Long & Foster website.
Visit open houses. While it’s best to visit places within your preferred price range, you can look at places above and below your price to get a sense of what’s available and what it costs. Exploring open houses costs nothing but a little time, yet you can learn a lot. Try looking at different types of homes, such as a townhouse or a condo, as well as single family homes, and check out both new construction and resale properties. The more neighborhoods and homes you visit, the more you will be able to recognize property values and to establish your personal preferences.
Make a wish list and a must-have list. In an ideal world, everyone could find everything they want in a home that matches their budget and their preferred location. Realistically, nearly everyone must compromise on something. Creating a list of what matters most will make your decision much easier. If you’ve done your research and know what’s available in your price range, it’s easier to decide which features matter most to you. If you’re buying a home with someone else, you can each make a list of preferences, compare them and begin to discuss where you are each willing to compromise.
Decide if you want to renovate or not. Many buyers realize they can find a property with a lower price if it needs work, but they decide they don’t have the time or experience to renovate. Take the time to think about how much work you would be willing to do or whether you are willing to live with an older kitchen or bathroom for a year or two, since these decisions could be an important piece of your ultimate choice of a home. Keep in mind there are financing options for you to wrap renovations into your mortgage and that it could be easier to do some things, such as replacing or refinishing floors, before you settle into your new home.
Once you’ve got your finances in order, have explored your market and narrowed your priorities, you’ll have a better understanding of your next steps toward homeownership. Throughout the process, your agent should also be there to help you move forward on journey home.