You’re on a mission to find a new place to call home — exciting! But before you set your Zillow criteria or start making offers, consider these six home buying tips to keep yourself grounded:
Don’t Forget the ‘Sleeper Costs’
Sleeper costs are the extras that most home buyers tend to block out — and there are a lot of them. Paint, window treatments, utilityconnect fees, landscaping, homeowners’ association fees, taxes, insurance — the list goes on. Make sure you’re financially prepared for the odds and ends that come attached to your new set of keys.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
The home you’re eyeing is the biggest one on the block, and while the idea of becoming the high-roller of the neighborhood may be appealing, it might not be the best investment decision. If your new castle costs $500,000, but the homes around it cost half that, your appreciation value could be limited — a home’s value and appreciation is impacted by other homes around it.
Leave Emotions at the Door
Falling in love with a home and picturing yourself living in it are two very different concepts. Getting too attached is a dangerous game that could lead to heart break and/or risky financial choices. After all, this is a large investment not an episode of HGTV “House Hunters”.
Bid with a Formula in Mind
The best opening offer will be: 1. something you can afford and 2. what you believe the property is worth.
Many buyers want to start lower with their first bid, but you need to keep in mind the current state of the market. Look at the surrounding house values, calculate the price-per-square-foot and come up with a realistic number — this will show the sellers you’ve given your offer careful consideration.
It’s OK to Stalk a Little
It may sound creepy, but it’s okay to stalk the neighborhood a little before making an offer. Stop by during different times of the day and try out the commute to make sure the location will work. Check out the local grocery store, ask about the schools and talk with neighbors about the area. It’s better to find the skeletons now before you’re stuck in a neighborhood you don’t like. If you’re still not sure, visit with a professional real estate agent who knows the neighborhood and can steer you in the right direction.
Get Your Finances in Order
Finally, make sure your financial ducks are in a row before any serious home shopping. This means taking extra caution to avoid anything that could negatively affect your credit score and getting pre-approved for a home loan. This process will help you establish an affordable budget for your search and beyond.
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