A lot of you are lucky to have owned before, or are currently living in an owned property. But some of you are just getting ready to take that plunge, and while it's an exciting time, definitely a few things you should keep in mind before you start thinking of writing offers.
1) Can't stress this enough - talk to a mortgage specialist! This seems like common sense but you might be surprised how many people look at houses first, and talk to a mortgage specialist after. Talking to a mortgage specialist first (and, a good one at one of the four major banks) allows you to look efficiently at houses within your price range without getting your hopes up, or conversely, looking at houses far below your budget range. Most people have an idea if they have good or bad credit, but to what degree usually isn't known until talking to a mortgage specialist.
I'm guessing most of you will know this already, but if you're one of the few who didn't know this is an imperative first step, now you do.
2) Find a REALTOR®. I know, this seems self-serving, but there isn't any downside and tons of upside! Using an agent on the buying end won't cost you anything (seriously, nothing) and we will make your search so much easier. Not only that but a buyer's agent will write up an offer for you, and negotiate tenaciously (the good ones anyways) on your behalf. After the sale, the agent will take care of all that annoying post-sale stuff that needs to be done before possession as well. This is really just a no brainer, find a good agent and use him/her!
3) Once you start the search, be mindful of your budget. I know these reality tv real estate shows can warp one's mindset when searching for a home - it's hard to see people buy islands or homes in Beverly Hills, and then go hit the pavement with your REALTOR® in -25 weather looking at $270,000 homes, but your reality is your reality. Wallpaper can be removed, walls painted and cupboards changed, so don't focus on cosmetic stuff like that too much. Focus on the things you can't easily change - location, layout, square footage, amount of bedrooms/bathrooms, yard size, etc, and find something that gives you checkmarks in those areas, and within your price range.
4) With that said, be open. Once the search begins, criteria can (and often does) change! That doesn't mean you are a wimpy buyer, straying from what's actually important to you. Usually, it just means the search is opening your eyes to factors that you may not have prioritized in the past. For example, you may have 'close to school and big master bedroom' as dealbreakers, but maybe once you start searching, you realize a big bedroom isn't so important, but a kitchen is. Just be aware the process isn't static, and it's perfectly normal to shift one more more priorities once you get out there and see some properties.
Hope these help. Next week, it'll be four 'don't's for new buyers, which can be just as important as the 'do's.
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