Buying and selling residential real estate involves many different steps.
Just as buying can be a daunting task for first-timers, those who already own and would like to move also may find the whole process a bit overwhelming at times.
Either way the most important thing to remember when dealing with one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll ever make is that no question should ever go unanswered. Any and all questions you have along the way – no matter how silly or insignificant you may think they are - should always be answered to your satisfaction - either immediately right there on the spot, or, if additional information is required, in a timely follow-up.
When it comes to finding the right house to call your home, making sure you get it at a great value is always a top priority. However, the fact that this particular purchase is generally extremely personal and emotional often makes it extremely difficult to always follow the logical steps of making a sound decision before buying.
Think about the process you use to purchase gifts for loved ones or when buying a new car, new computer or even groceries. You most likely do some research online, read a few reviews, compare prices and make a list. Then you probably visit more than one location and talk to a few experts face-to-face before completing the transaction.
In home buying, that’s the very same strategy you should use when choosing a Realtor®. Carefully selected, a professional Realtor with expertise and local knowledge can be a valuable asset. Having someone else on your side who also has your best interest as their number one priority means you can proceed with confidence.
Consider the reasons why you would hire a professional painter to spruce things up before selling – you need to save time but want to make the best possible impression on buyers. Before choosing a painter, you would want to know more about his/her ability to paint and his/her ability to get the best possible results. But, you would provide the guidelines for what needs to be painted, what color to use and how it should look in the end. You would also determine what times and days he/she can be in your home and agree on a price for the service based on all of your personal criteria.
As with a painter, personal referrals are important when choosing a Realtor to work with when buying or selling a house. The most successful ones don’t always choose to drive the most expensive vehicles or wear impressive clothes. Expertise is far more valuable when navigating the intricacies of a real estate transaction.
Also consider how at some point in the process of “shopping,” you also determine what you can afford. Typically, the more expensive the purchase the earlier in the process you set a budget.
So when it comes to a home, generally the largest purchase you will ever make since it typically results in a pre-determined payment amount for the next 30 years, setting a budget should always be the first step.
In fact, in today’s market working with lender to determine eligibility is often a requirement before looking at homes in person. Financial information including your down payment, your annual income, FICO scores, savings (for proof of funds), the debt you have, assets you own, how much equity you have in your current house, etc. are looked at in the very same way they will be when you actually apply for a loan in an attempt to mitigate any potential problems once you do find “the” house.
As part of this process, whether building or buying an existing home, you need to be realistic about what you can afford - keeping in mind that shopping for the most expensive home you qualify for means you may struggle financially, and that can wear thin over time. You need to take a careful look at your finances and answer the following question: how much are you willing to pay on a monthly basis for the home you want? It’s important to have enough money leftover to pay other monthly bills, go on a vacation, save and cover additional general living expenses like clothing and entertainment (including eating out).
Once you know how much you can afford, it’s easier to zero in on a location and specifically what you want in a home.