Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re somewhat familiar with the home-buying process, you owe it to yourself to make sure you get the best deal for your dollar. When you take the time upfront to consider every element of the journey, from finding a great listing online to stepping in the front door, you give yourself and your family tremendous peace of mind.
Begin to become a conscientious consumer by adding four things to your checklist.
As a homebuyer, you deserve to have the best possible experience — and that starts with partnering with the right realtor. All real estate agents are not the same, and the first one you meet may not be the one you feel most comfortable with.
In general, you want a realtor who has been in business for a while and who has a strong track record of helping clients buy (and sell) homes. Look for someone who specializes in the types of properties you want to buy. For instance, if you’re looking for a farm, find a realtor who has expertise working with other clients who bought and sold farms. Similarly, if you want to purchase an urban condominium, make an appointment with a realtor who focuses on city living.
Ideally, the realtor-client match should be one where you trust and respect each other. Without that level of commitment, it’s tough to streamline the process.
Many people go into homeownership without ever considering the nitty-gritty details. While it’s fine to say, “We have enough for a down payment on a new home,” it’s only a part of the overall equation.
The truth is that you’ll need to create a comprehensive budget that includes all your anticipated costs. For instance, if you’re moving from being a renter to being a homeowner, you’ll need to have enough in the bank to pay for responsibilities like taxes, sewer bills, home maintenance, homeowners’ insurance premiums and more.
Don’t assume that the down payment is all you need in order to make homeownership a reality. Literally write down everything in advance so you aren’t surprised by unexpected bills.
If you’ve ever watched a home-buying show on television, you may have the impression that negotiations happen quickly. That’s a trick of editing and camera work.
In fact, home negotiations can take time. A seller may wait to see if he or she gets plenty of competing bids before accepting one of them. And the highest bid may not be the winning one if a lower bid seems to be a better offer.
Your realtor should help you navigate the negotiation process from beginning to end and explain what’s happening thoroughly and plainly. Feel like you’re not getting the whole story or that your realtor is somehow working at cross-purposes? Get a different real estate agent to improve the odds of snagging a great home.
You thought you couldn’t live without a four-bedroom home, but you fell in love with a three-bedroom one. It happens.
Often, home seekers enter the buying process with a set of specific “wants,” but they soon discover that, unless they build their own residences, they won’t get everything in one property. The sooner you understand that this may happen, the sooner you can open your eyes to the possibilities.
Start by prioritizing your needs and work from there. Who knows? That tiny kitchen may be just the ticket if everything else fits the bill.
Going into the home-buying journey is a unique adventure every time, but the more you know in advance, the more you’ll be ready to negotiate like a pro.