Many of the articles that I share relate to the seller’s perspective during the sale, but today I’d like to focus instead on some of my favorite insights for those of you in the market for a new home or piece of property. Taking time to prepare and enter the market with your needs and desires in mind will help to hone down the choices and narrow your choices and position in price negotiations.
Experienced Real Estate Agents Pay Off
Of course, my number one tip is to engage an experienced REALTOR. Yes, I’m a real estate agent and this tip may seem to be purely self-serving, but for most people the purchase of a home is the largest financial investment they will ever make and you want to ensure that you are guided by someone who has been through the process time and again and knows the pitfalls to watch out for. Using a realtor also puts you in a growing population of buyers that are realizing the value an experienced realtor brings to the table. In today’s market about 88% of buyers engage a realtor, up from only 69% in 2001.
Step Back from Capital Purchases Temporarily
Mortgage lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio to determine the amount of a mortgage you can reasonably afford. In the months and year leading up to buying a new home, work to keep that ratio down by delaying new car purchases or opening new credit cards. Your goal should be to demonstrate that you have room in your credit to comfortably afford a home in the price range you are seeking. A good real estate agent can help walk you through the process of getting pre-approved for a lending amount, paring down the outstanding credit you aren’t currently using such as department store cards, and giving you a good estimate of the right price range to explore.
Look Beyond the House to the Community
It is easy to get caught up in finding the perfect features inside a home and in the yard and neighborhood. If you have your heart set on a Cape Cod with bay window seating for a breakfast nook, the alignment with your vision of the perfect home can cloud your greater judgment about the investment. Remember that real estate is an investment, even if it is your primary home. Before you even consider stepping foot in a property, research school ratings and districts (even if you don’t have children), crime rates, income ranges, even political trends in voting. All of these aspects relate to both the sustained property values in the area, resale market, and your ability to feel great connecting with your new neighbors.
Know the Property That You’re Buying
From retaining mineral rights to knowing exactly where the property lines run, knowing what you are buying can help you make a good decision. Spending a few dollars on a professional surveyor can reveal neighbors that have slowly encroached over property lines or grass lines that give the impression of a larger yard. You want to understand exactly what you are purchasing and avoid any disputes over variances and rules after you buy. This means talking to an experienced agent to gain access to Homeowners Association Covenants and ByLaws, Rules, and Zoning related matters. It might also mean running a check on the property tax rate and assessed value trends in the area over the past decade to better understand how value will be retained in your new home.
These tips should get you started thinking like a savvy buyer, but there is much more to share than I could ever include in one article! Give me a call at 336-575-7249 and let’s discuss more ways I can help you find the home you desire. I’ll be your partner, every step of the way, engaging over 25 years of real estate experience to make the buying experience an adventure you’ll enjoy.