With the constant fluxuation of the housing market, buying a home can be one of the scariest experiences of your life. However, owning a home also has many benefits. When maintained, homes appreciate in value, thus making them a secure investment. You also have nearly complete freedom to customize your home just how you want it. You don’t have to worry about your neighbors upstairs stomping around at 2 in the morning. And it gives you a place to watch your family grow.
Still it is important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Let’s take a look a few things to think about when shopping for real estate.
First and most important of all is to determine your budget and needs. Don’t feel compelled to have to buy an eight bedroom, 6 bath mansion on an acre of land with a pool and 4 car garage if you can only afford a 2 bed, 1 bath townhouse. Be realistic, if you just have a family of 3, you don’t need an overly large house. This will keep you from getting into financial trouble early on.
Once you have an idea of what you want, it’s usually a good idea to go through a realtor, as they can make the rest of the process much easier. They can keep you up to date on all of the government incentives being offered, and help get you the best deal. Make sure you research the realtor you use as well. Some agents are simply out to sell you a house as quick as possible, without even taking into consideration your wants and needs.
Even once you have a realtor, it usually doesn’t hurt if you continue browsing property on your own. You may just find something they missed.
Now we move on to the actual shopping. If you have a good realtor, they’ll make sure you see the house before making any decisions. This is always a good idea, as home listings aren’t always honest. When they say ‘fixer-upper,’ sometimes they mean it could use a fresh coat of paint, sometimes they mean the roof is caving in.
Don’t let that discourage you from buying something that needs a little work done, though. Especially if you can do the work yourself. Most of the time, you’ll be able to get it cheaper than a comparable house in better condition. Plus with a little TLC, you’ll have the option of selling it for more than you paid, should you desire to move.
A note when buying foreclosed homes: make sure you go through the proper channels such as a bank or an accredited lending agency. Unfortunately, many have taken advantage of first-time buyers, and sold them a house that they never owned in the first place.
Once you’ve taken all these things into consideration, you’re ready to buy. Make sure you have all your paperwork lined up and keep your credit in good shape if you need a loan. Good luck and happy hunting!