1. Research before you look. First and foremost, decide what features are most important to you. Are there things your home must have to satisfy your family's needs? Next look in your preferred neighborhoods for homes that fit your description
2. Be Realistic. It's a good thing to have high expectations and know what you want. Just remember that there is no such thing as the perfect home...unless you are willing to build one from scratch. Keep in mind what your needs are compared to what is available in your area of choice. Use your priority list to help you evaluate and 'grade' each property.
3. Get your finances in order early. Run a credit check on yourself (and significant other if the purchase will be made together). Next take a serious look at your savings--do you have enough to cover a down payment (normally about 20% of the total cost of the home) and closing costs (normally between 1-1.2% of the home's cost). When you have a general idea of your financial standing, meet with a lender to be pre-qualified for a mortgage. Doing this early on will show sellers you are serious and know how much you can afford.
4. When it comes to opinions-more is less. Ask one or two people you trust and whose opinions you value for their thoughts when you narrow down your list of homes. The more people you involve, the more confused you will be. In the end it will be you living in the home and you who has to be satisfied day in and day out. Gathering qualified, knowledgeable information is very important, but don't be swayed by the personal preferences of friends and family.
5. Decide your moving timeline. Are you currently renting and tied to a lease? Are you allowed to sublet? Will moving in the Fall interfere with your child's school schedule? These are all questions you should think about. If you realize your moving options are limited, plan accordingly.
6. Think long term. Are you planning to start small and move to a larger home in a few years or looking for a long term family home? Your decision here will dictate the type and price of the home you will buy as well as impact your mortgage options. See our Mortgages Simplified post for detailed information.
7. An Inspection is essential. Do not pass up your option of a home inspection. Having a professional go through a house top to bottom and vet it completely will uncover any issues that need to be addressed. You need to be aware of the condition the home is in. It could make you re-think the purchase or confirm that you are making a solid choice. Either way, it's best to know up front than to find out later.
8. A Realtor will be your best advocate. Having a professional to guide you and help you make informed choices will be a lifesaver during the home buying process. As a buyer's agent, your realtor will be working for you to find the home you want. You want someone on your side to actively work toward your goal so that you can relax, enjoy the search and be sure your best interests are being looked after. Our Signature Agents are always available to offer advice and consultations and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.