Last week, we talked about the second step in the home purchase process: choosing your loan type. Once you and your lender have determined the type of loan that will best suit your needs, the next step is to begin your home search. This may be the most exciting part of the process, and it can be easy to get caught up in that excitement. It’s important to make this decision carefully, consider your options, and to work with knowledgeable professionals who can help you make the best choice.
Choose the Right Real Estate Agent Your real estate agent will be your guide through your home search, so he or she should be someone that you can trust. Hire a Realtor who takes time to understand your needs and to explain anything that is unclear. The right agent will help you enter the process prepared and confident.
“It’s very important to work with a real estate agent who first consults with you to find out your needs,” says David Bonanno, California Branch Manager with NFM Lending. “Home buyers are our lifeblood and who we serve. We have to know what their wants, needs, and budget are.”
Choosing a Home There are many factors to consider when looking for a home. Plan carefully and talk to your real estate agent about the following things before beginning your home search:
Your budget – Make sure you know your price point, accounting for all additional costs and fees, and discuss it with your lender beforehand. Limit your search to homes within your budget; otherwise, you may fall in love with a home you can’t afford. It’s also important to know whether you want to buy a newly built home or not.
“Everyone thinks buying new is the best way to go. What they do not realize is all the money that will be spent on the yard, light fixtures, window coverings—things that may not be included in the purchase of the home,” says David. He recommends that buyers interested in purchasing a newly built home keep in mind the extra costs associated with this kind of purchase.
Your priorities – Searching for a home can be an emotional process, so it’s important to keep a list of what’s most important to you, so you can limit your search to homes that fit your criteria. For example, you want a short commute to work, or want a large backyard, or want three bathrooms. Communicate this to your real estate agent and only look at homes that will meet your needs.
The Neighborhood – When you find a home you like, take time to observe the neighborhood. If you can, talk to your potential neighbors and ask what they like about the neighborhood. Come back at different times of the day and week. Read the local newspaper or blog to get a sense of the community and to find out whether there are any potential concerns.
Other things to keep in mind when searching for a home are your short- and long-term goals. David suggests thinking about how long you plan to live in the area, and whether you will need room to grow as your family grows. Buying a new home is an investment in your future, so it’s important to have your future in mind when you are choosing your home.
Once you’ve found the right home, you will work with your real estate agent to make an offer on the home and sign a contract. From there, you will move onto the next step to purchasing a new home: applying for your home loan.