Want to buy a house in 2018?
If this is the year you have decided to take the plunge and buy a house, there are several prep steps you should take. Purchasing real estate and the process that precedes it can be stressful. It can also be one of the best and most important decisions of your life. The old adage, “knowledge is power”, certainly applies here. Much of the stress of the home buying process can be relieved by doing a bit of research and arming yourself with the best knowledge out there. Read on to discover some of our top tips if you want to buy a house this year.
Start your search early.
History has shown that a majority of buyers who say they plan to buy a home in a new year will wait until the spring or summer to begin their search. Here’s your #1 tip:
If you’re intending to purchase, consider doing it sooner rather than later. There’s far more inventory available in the off-peak months relative to the number of sales. Get a jump on the other potential buyers in your area and reap the benefits of your early effort. Buyers who start their search in January or February face less competition and have access to nearly the same number of homes. This is especially true of northern climate cities like Chicago
Bring someone with you who knows more about the process than you do.
If you want to buy a house for yourself (especially if you’re a first-time home buyer), bring a trusted someone with you who has been through the process before. They may catch things/issues that you overlook due to excitement, emotions, distraction or lack of experience. Ask them to make a list of questions to ask the realtor.
Get to know the neighborhood.
Another benefit of starting your home buying process early is having the time to research the neighborhoods that interest you. Before you buy, plan to visit the area a few times: morning, noon and night, if possible. Many homebuyers find what they think is the perfect home for them, only to come to the sad conclusion that the neighborhood isn’t a fit for them. If you’ve found a home you’re interested in, do your regular commute from the house to make sure it is something that you’ll be able to do consistently. Research how far it is to the nearest grocery store and other important services. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s important to research the schools in the area because it will affect the value of your home and your resale value in the future. Many potential buyers don’t realize that the value of their home can be affected by up to 20 percent based on the quality of the school district it’s within. This cuts both ways because a home in that great school district will cost you more too. But, as an investment, it can make sense because it will likely appreciate in value faster than the home in that “not as highly rated” school district.
When you buy a house, always research the local housing market.
Keep an eye on the sale prices in your area and/or the area to which you are wishing to relocate. Home buyers can often have unrealistic expectations. This can lead to frustration and disappointment in the long run. In order to avoid that, do some homework. Research home prices in the area by looking at the most recent sales prices. This will be one of the best indicators of what you’ll be able to get for your money. Here’s a big key, unless you live in a rural area, try to look at homes within one-half mile of where you want to live. Prices can swing greatly either way depending on the neighborhood. Sometimes, homes only a mile away might as well be in another state when it comes to comparing prices. For example, if you price check a home in the poshest “in” neighborhood in town, you might think you can’t afford that 2500 square foot home you need. When in actuality, that home in another, totally acceptable part of town is well within your reach. Visit websites like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com to get a handle on what price homes are going for in your target area. These are great because you can look at home values within a tight, specifically targeted area.
Getting pre-approved for a home loan before you start your search is not only going to bring you peace of mind, it will help you position yourself as a qualified buyer. Sellers may be hesitant to accept an offer from a buyer that is not pre-qualified because they will likely lose showings while the house is under contract. If the buyer’s mortgage approval falls through, then the seller will have lost valuable time… and maybe value… because the listing has now “aged”. Another reason to get pre-approved is you can then go into your search knowing how much you can spend and approximately what your monthly payments might be. Don’t disappoint yourself by falling in love with a home you find out later you can’t afford.
Be prepared and your home-buying experience will be a much easier and smoother transaction. Arm yourself with some basic knowledge and you’ll save yourself unnecessary stress in the long run.
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