Buyer's Articles – For the smart consumer

How to Find Your Next Home
Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned expert, buying a home is a huge commitment in terms of time and money.  But, much more than that, the process of finding a home that perfectly fits your lifestyle should be fun.

Realtors know that buyers who get excited while looking for a home are more successful at finding the right home for their lifestyle and tend to enjoy the process almost as much as the realtors do.

Simplify the process of finding your next home by heeding these tips that will help you better enjoy the process of looking for a home and worry less about the nagging details that can derail the entire process.

Before You Start Looking…
Sometimes potential buyers will decide that it is time to buy a new home when they drive past a for-sale sign in the lawn of a sparkling home in their neighborhood.  Perhaps this is the home of their dreams, but more likely it just makes them long for a change.

If and when this happens to you, take some time to consider what exactly you would include in your dream home if your choices and financial resources were unlimited.  Once you have put together this dream list, scratch off the items that you know are unrealistic.  Then make another list from the items that remain, grouping them into must-haves, would-likes and things it would be okay to have included.

Realtors’ experience shows that when such a list is created before beginning the actual home search, buyers do not have the opportunity to become enamored with a specific home that might not have everything that they are truly seeking.

Got Cash?
Unless you can answer with a loud, confident “yes,” you need to research mortgage lenders, programs and interest rates well before beginning your home search.  Buyers, who have determined ahead of time how much they are willing to spend, and how much they can borrow, are the most successful homebuyers.

Once you know how much money you can comfortably afford to put toward your mortgage payment each month, contact a lender to discuss the process of obtaining a pre-approval and loan commitment statement. 

Once you complete the application process and receive your pre-approval, ask the lender to make a loan commitment that will lock in your interest rate (usually as long as you purchase within 90 days) and provide proof of funding to a potential seller.

Realtors know that in most cases you will be unable to profit from your home significantly unless you are willing to make investments in it.  If you are purchasing a fixer-upper with the intention of making necessary repairs and upgrades and then selling the home for a much higher price, then you may indeed be able to make a profit...

Share the Wealth…
…the wealth of information, that is.  By sharing your prioritized dream list with your realtor, you gain gaining access to all of his or her resources for matching you with potential homes.  Your realtor will be able to research many homes through a variety of different methods with the goal of finding one that suits your lifestyle perfectly. 

Jump on the Highways…
Yes, highways – and streets, roads, lanes, avenues, and boulevards, too!  You should drive through the area in which you would like to move in order to scope out potential homes for sale.  Getting a feel for the location, neighborhood, proximity to schools, and other factors will help you see first-hand what living in the area would mean to you.

And speaking of highways, now you can hop onto the information superhighway!  The internet is a fantastic tool that can help you find homes that meet your requirements from the comfort of your own home office.  You can access thousands of websites that list homes for sale, and you can also learn more about the area to which you plan to relocate.

Be Realistic…
With housing costs are on the rise, some buyers choose to purchase homes in areas with appreciating property values in the hopes that within a few years they will be able to sell their home and generate a profit.

Realtors know that in most cases you will be unable to profit from your home significantly unless you are willing to make investments in it.  If you are purchasing a fixer-upper with the intention of making necessary repairs and upgrades and then selling the home for a much higher price, then you may indeed be able to make a profit.  However, if you do not intend to invest the necessary time and money in upgrading or renovating your new home, you should not expect a significant short-term increase in its value.

If you want to purchase a larger home than you might otherwise be able to afford through traditional lending, consider using a balloon or interest-only mortgage, but be aware that this is a risky proposition for buyers who are not prepared to make long-term sacrifices in order to satisfy their loan requirements.  Some buyers opt for this alternative financing in order to afford a home that is really beyond their grasp.  If this sounds like you, proceed with caution. Your realtor should provide the same advice. Even though your realtor earns income through commissions based on homes’ selling prices, it is his or her responsibility to look out for the client’s best interests.  You are no exception!

Consider the Value of Contingencies…
When you are looking at homes that are attractive to you, realize that several other buyers may also be very interested in making an offer.  Therefore, you need to know ahead of time what you are willing to give up in terms of contractual agreements and obligations in order to make your offer as attractive as possible to the seller.

Your realtor can ask the listing agent whether the seller has obtained a pre-sale home inspection. If so, then you and your realtor can evaluate the legitimacy of the inspection report by researching the home inspector.  If the inspection seems accurate and the inspector is properly certified, then you might opt to waive the right to a home inspection.  You might also agree to allow the seller to remain in the home rent-free for a specific period of time after the closing. This is particularly useful when the seller is building a home or the closing is pending on his or her next home.

If you would like additional information about ways to improve your offers attractiveness to the seller, your realtor should be more than happy to share his or her knowledge and expertise with you.  Call to schedule a time to chat before you are ready to make an offer.

Good realtors pride themselves on being able to assist people like you in the process of buying and selling their home.  Years of experience have allowed them to understand what sells buyers on homes, and sellers on buyers.  Working together, your combined efforts should be enough to get you into the home of your dreams.

Most importantly, remember that the process of looking for your next home should be a fun and exciting time!  Being pre-approved for your mortgage and knowing exactly what you are looking for in a home make the process much smoother once you actually begin viewing homes.  Have fun and always remember that you can contact your realtor with any questions or concerns that you might have related to any of the information presented in this article.