Home buying can be an exciting step in one’s life, but at times, an overwhelming process, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. To help tackle this experience, Colin McPartland has prepared a list of items to consider before you start interviewing realtors.
Many buyers start home searching before they even know what they can afford. Establishing a budget with a mortgage consultant is a great way to find out what your ceiling is; at the same time, start the process of getting pre-approved or pre-qualified. In addition to determining a down payment and mortgage payments, make sure to consider additional costs of homeownership like utility costs, maintenance costs, property taxes, private mortgage insurance (if applicable), and if the property has HOA fees, you’ll need to factor those too.
Chances are you’ve heard that real estate is about three things “location, location, location”. Colin McPartland would say it’s not the only factor, but definitely an important one. When narrowing down where you want to live, once you’ve chosen the area or city of choice, think about your commute for work if you have one. Will you be relying on public transportation, and does it need to be closely available? Do you have kids? How are the schools in the area? Is safety important to you? Check out the local law enforcement stats close by to get more information. Factors will differ from person to person, but these are a few good starting points.
What kind of home do you want to be in? A stick built or manufactured? Condo or townhouse? Maybe you’re looking for vacant land to build your own home? Once you’ve determined which kind, next ask yourself how big of home to you want to be in from a square footage minimum, how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need, and how big of lot do you want to being living on and maintaining. Narrowing down these criteria will help you and your realtor when searching homes on the local MLS, from there, you can decide if you need something turnkey or if you want a version of a fixer upper.
Wish List and Deal Breakers
It’s a good idea to establish what a home absolutely must have before you start looking and, conversely, deal breakers that simply will not work for you. If you are home shopping with your partner, it’s smart to make these lists separately and then compare the results. In a perfect world, the exact fit becomes available for every buyer, however, in a seller’s market like it’s been lately, finding a home that checks 80% of the boxes is a home that should be likely considered to proceed forward with an offer.
Knowing when you need to be in your new home is very important as the process takes longer than most people are aware. Let’s say you’re already pre-approved and happen to get your offer accepted on your first trip out with realtor. You’ve still got almost a month before your home closes. It’s crucial to get this info to your realtor before starting the process, if you’re under a strict time constraint (ie, moving for a job, already sold your current home, your lease coming to an end) that may impact the search and you’ll need to be more okay with compromising. On the other end of the spectrum, if there’s no reason to press, you can be patient and potentially find a home that best matches your wish list.