1. Know Your Budget – No one should pay over 2 and 1/2 times their annual salary for a new home. By limiting your options to your budget, it will eliminate the potential of falling in love with a house way out of your price range. Improve your credit score as well so you can pay the lowest interest possible on your mortgage payments. It is recommended to order all three of your credit reports about a year before you start looking, so that you can begin to correct any mistakes.
2. Get your pre-approval letter – It is best to already have this available while you are searching for your new house, so when you find your dream home, you can show the sellers you are a trustworthy buyer who will be able to purchase the house without a hitch. Remember: this is only an informal okay from your lender.
3. Define Your Needs – We all have an image of a dream house: beautifully structured and full of the latest features, but unfortunately that’s all it will be, a dream. Take time to sit down and make a list of the features you must have, and jotting down the wants. When sitting down with your realtor, it will be easier for them to give you options more suited to your taste.
4. Hire a Pro – With so many confusing terms and detailed contracts, it can be overwhelming and feel like a full time job to buy a home. So instead, hire an exclusive buying agent who will have your best interests in mind, and explain all the gray areas of searching, making an offer, and sealing the deal. It is important to find someone who is a good fit for you, so you do not feel pressured by them because there is no timeline for how long it takes to purchase a home. Find the right one by interviewing multiple agents, and asking questions to find out how busy they will be and how long they have been a realtor. The same person is not right for everyone.
5. Think about the Future – Are you ready to move? Do you plan on staying in the town for 5 or more years? It’s crucial to think about what lies ahead, because a new home is an investment in your future. If you plan on having kids, do your research to find a good school district. Even if you are not planning to or your kids are grown, it’s a good idea to buy in a high-rated school district because it raises the home’s resale value.