If you’re considering buying a home in 2014, you should take some steps now to ensure you’re ready to make that purchase in the New Year. It’s not as easy as you might think – you need to take some initial steps and gather information so you’re ready to accomplish such a task. If it’s is your first time buying a home, it is important to get a feel for how the process works. The New England market is still low on inventory, so you’ll need to be ready, willing, and able to buy your dream home when you finally come across it in your property search.
The first thing you will need to do is to square away your financials. Before buying a new home, avoid making any major purchases you can’t pay off immediately. This will help protect your credit score and provide a little cushion in case any unforeseen expenditures arise.
You’ll also need to get pre-approved for a home loan. It’s smart to interview mortgage brokers and shop around for the best rates. Knowing what you have to spend is critical, before you even start to look at listings. There’s no point in looking at houses out of your price range; you might end up falling in love with an unrealistic property that you simply can’t afford. Don’t forget to factor in all the expenses associated with your new home purchase: the mortgage, closing costs, inspector fees, attorney fees, insurance, and soft costs such as property taxes, utilities, and homeowner association fees. Figure out what your monthly costs would be, and be sure you can handle it moving forward.
Hire an experienced real estate agent to help you navigate your search for the perfect home. Be sure to select a broker who is familiar with the geographic area in which you’re hoping to move. At the same time, acquaint yourself with the respective neighborhoods; after all, you’ll not only be buying a house, you’ll also be investing in a community. If you have children or plan on having them, factor in the school systems in that district. A desirable commuting location can also be another consideration.
If you’re pre-approved, have established your price range, and engaged a real estate expert, you’ve done most of your homework and are just about ready to buy that house. In fact, if you can start to look over the holidays, you may even have a jump on the Spring market, which starts in January. With so few homes listed in some communities, you’ll have more luck if you’re the first one to request a showing or visit an open house. If you find a home is listed over the holidays, that likely means there’s a motivated seller behind it who may need to relocate and move their property. Be ready to make an offer if the home meets all of your criteria.
When it comes to the bidding process, give your best and final offer true consideration. Choose a number you believe the house is worth, and determine what you can afford to pay rather than putting out a series of low offers to try to get a bargain. Consider a few thousand dollars over the course of a 15 or 30 year loan won’t cost much more in the long run. If you’re a buyer that has no contingencies, is pre-approved for a mortgage, and can expedite the sale fairly quickly, you’ll be attractive to a seller. Most often, you can meet somewhere in the middle, so be reasonable and it usually has a positive impact. Sometimes it’s not the highest bid that wins the deal, but the buyer who can offer the best terms. Again, your real estate agent can advise you during this time.
Whenever, in the course of the next few months – you find the perfect home, you’ll still have some legwork to do. Choose all of the members of your real estate team carefully with help from your broker. Before signing that purchase and sale agreement, have the home inspected by a professional. It generally runs in the range of $500 -- $1000, but it could potentially save you thousands of dollars in the long run for repairs or structural problems that are invisible to the untrained eye. You’ll also need a reputable real estate attorney to handle the sale. He or she will look out for your best interests and make sure the purchase and sale agreement protects you.
You’ll encounter plenty of ups and downs during your home search, but following the aforementioned tips will help take the pressure off. So, figure out your financials to better understand your own price range, hire the right team to help you find your dream home, have it fully inspected before signing anything, and put in a realistic offer that you can afford. In the end, you’ll be able to rest easy in your new dream home, and know you took all the right measures to make it your own.
Amy Mizner is a principal at the real estate firm of Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. (BMS). Mizner and her partner Sheryl Simon have been the top-selling team in Weston for more than a decade. At BMS, which has offices in Weston and Wellesley, Mizner and her team work to provide a fresh approach, and a highly professional experience for all clients.