Everyone goes into house hunting feeling positive and excited, but frustration can take that away in a hurry. If you’re feeling spent, try these handy tips.
Buying a home represents one of the most exhilarating and stressful things that you’ll ever do. Especially as a first-time home buyer. You can get caught off-guard by many of the stipulations, particularly for FHA loans.
And while you may already have a healthy chunk of dough set aside for a down payment, don’t stop there. You’ll also need money for closing costs and to meet cash-reserve requirements.
So where should you start? Secure a home loan before your first open house event.
After all, why put in the house hunting legwork, if you don’t know what you do and don’t qualify for? Then, follow these five tried and true tips to make the search for your new home as smooth and pain-free as possible.
1- Get Real
Once you’re pre-approved for a loan from a place like manufactured home loans, the clock starts ticking. Use your time wisely. Start by getting “real” about your housing needs.
You and the other stakeholders in your home purchase may have competing interests. In fact, everybody has different wants and different deal breakers. So, communicate, negotiate, and get on the same page before you start looking.
Get realistic about what you can afford and where. Distinguish between needs and wants. While “wants “prove optional, unmet “needs” represent dealbreakers. Make a house hunting checklist of what you and your partner’s “wants” and “needs” are.
Remember, too, that houses can be renovated and upgraded. So, make a clear distinction between unmet “needs” and those that can be accommodated with the right adjustments or upgrades such as updated flooring.
2- Get an Agent
To keep house shopping moving along in a timely fashion, hire a real estate agent, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. An agent has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which means a greater ability to find you the perfect home.
They will coordinate home showings for you, and they can provide you with guidance when it comes to evaluating a property’s asking price and making an offer (and later a counter-offer).
Not sure where to find an agent?
Ask your network of family, friends, and colleagues for a personal recommendation. You can also check out real estate agent websites or use the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents to find a qualified agent.
3- Get on the Internet
95 percent of today’s buyers house hunt online for potential properties. From Zillow to Trulia, don’t miss out on this handy way to do some preliminary real estate research.
Not only will it help you see what’s available, but it may introduce you to wonderful subdivisions and neighborhoods you didn’t even know existed. What’s more, you’ll have a better understanding of what your prequalified home loan can purchase.
While you may not find the home of your dreams online, it will help you narrow the search and reframe your expectations based on what’s available. It’ll also help you make a shortlist so that you can use your time more wisely.
4- Get Out There
Once you’ve compiled a shortlist, share it with your real estate agent so that you can get out there and start looking at houses.
Use a digital camera to take photos of each home. Organize these into folders labeled with property addresses. This will keep you from forgetting what you did and did not like about each home.
Go over your “wants” and “needs” checklist at each home, too.
Don’t worry about things such as wall paint, wallpaper, and flooring, which simply require home renovation. But do pay attention to dealbreakers such as inadequate square footage, lots of noise from a nearby airport, no cul-de-sac, etc.
5- Get Your Imagination Going
While we don’t recommend getting emotionally attached to a property too soon, it is important to think about what it would be like to live there. This means taking a close look at the neighbors and neighborhood, too.
What would your daily routine look like? Does the area sound noisy?
Is there too much traffic for your kids to safely play in the front yard? Do you see any major construction in the area?
While these might seem like innocuous problems, imagine them as your daily reality. This could prove an eye-opener.
House hunting doesn’t have to feel like purgatory. Streamline the process by getting pre-approved and staying within your financial means.
Get on the same page with your other home purchase stakeholders so that your “needs” are met as well as at least some of your “wants.” That said, don’t be afraid of a few upgrades later.
When you research homes online and create a shortlist that your real estate agent can use to optimize your search time, you’ll find the perfect property before you know it. Read on for more tips to help you find the home of your dreams.