Buying a home is a tremendous life investment. The purchase holds long-term implications, most significantly for your finances, but also for your quality of life and overall happiness.
When looking to buy, there are some important things to keep in mind that can save you more than just money. Not only your hard-earned savings, but also hours of time and your reputation are on the line.
Real estate agent Orly Chen offers the following tips.
Determine How Much You Can Afford
One of the biggest questions facing homebuyers is how much they can actually afford to spend. The answer to this question determines most of their other choices, such as what kind of home to buy and where to look. These days, remember that slow growth and the danger of falling home prices are becoming the rule, not the exception. This makes the purchase even more important, and highlights the desirability of finding a good value. Think about buying an affordable home that you can improve, not an overly expensive home that could wreck you in the long run.
Decide What Kind of Home You Want
What qualities are you looking for in your new home? Be realistic about what matters to you. Some of the most important criteria to consider are size, location, style, features, educational systems, transportation, recreation, and type of community. If you list your criteria early, and stick to the points, you can save yourself time spent on looking at inappropriate matches.
Get Pre-Qualified for a Loan
Loan pre-qualification helps to improve your negotiating position and may allow you to purchase your home more quickly and with less frustration. With pre-qualification, you can determine the home price you can afford, which allows the seller to see you as a serious candidate. Pre-qualification puts you in the best place to take advantage of opportunities, which can come at any time. Be prepared.
Consider an Attorney
Although not required by law, an attorney can streamline items like document review and the closing process, which saves you valuable time and frees you to think of other important concerns. Ask Orly, or check the Business Partners section of this site, for a list of attorneys she recommends in Bergen County.
Know Your Mortgages
Understand the distinction between adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) and fixed rate mortgages. ARM loans have a fixed rate initially, followed by an adjustment period in which the rate changes based on several key indexes. This type of loan can be a good option for a buyer who plans to sell their home in the short term, before the adjustment period. Usually, the initial fixed rate on an ARM is slightly lower than that of a fixed rate mortgage. Fixed rate mortgages allow you to take out a loan for the long term without the worry of an adjustment to a higher rate. Most fixed rate loans are available in 15 or 30-year terms.
Thousands of lenders are competing to serve your mortgage needs. You may wish to apply directly online, or use a mortgage broker to help you shop among the lenders. Avoid making comparisons between different types of loans, where fixed rate mortgages should not be compared with ARMs. Consult at least five types of mortgage providers, including a mortgage broker, to increase your chances of getting the best deal.
Sign a Contract in Your Best Interest
Only sign a contract that allows you to arrange financing and inspect your new home with room to negotiate any problem you discover.
Create a Relationship with Your Seller
A home purchase is ultimately a negotiation between two parties, the buyer and the seller. In addition to being aware of your needs as a buyer, it pays to learn what motivates the seller. Why did the buy the home? How have they treated the home? Why are they selling it now? Understanding the seller is key to deciding whether the buy a home, and what it is worth to you.
Arrange for a Professional Home Inspection
What you don’t know about your new home can cost you, and hurt you down the road in unimaginable ways. Make sure to find a qualified home inspector to assess your new home before you make the purchase. Their professional report can reveal hidden problems that may affect your decision whether or not to move ahead with the purchase. At the very least, the inspection may uncover needed repairs for which you and the seller can negotiate responsibility. For more information, consult the Home Inspection section of this site.
Purchase a Home Protection Plan
A home protection plan, sometimes called a home warranty, is a service contract that usually lasts for one year and protects homeowners against the costs of unforeseen repairs and breakdowns due to the usual wear and tear. Home protection plans do not replace homeowner’s insurance, but they cover breakdowns, whereas the insurance covers the associated damage. This plan provides extra peace of mind for the buyer and seller in the crucial first year of a new home.