What are the first steps in buying a home? Here are five helpful tips to help you get started.

  • Find a house you can afford. There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home – 2.5 times your yearly salary. There are a number of calculators and tools and online that can help you understand how your debt, income, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the price of the home, including property taxes, home insurance, etc.
  • Get your finances in order. If you are getting a loan, find the right lender to get pre-approved. This will position you properly to make a serious offer when you find the right property. Getting pre-approved is free of charge and will allow you to know what price range to target and have the opportunity to gather the needed documents.
  • Hire the right professional. While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to resources and home listings, many aspects of the purchasing process require a level of expertise you can’t learn from the Internet. Better than going it alone, recruit an exclusive buyer’s agent, free of charge. They are trained to represent you and your interests and can help you with purchasing strategies. Best practice is to see what others have said regarding their experience with the Realtor.
  • Always do your homework. Before making an offer on a home, do some research to determine the state of the local market. Is it more favorable for buyers or sellers? Next, look at sales trends for the last few months of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Your Realtor will be able to advise you on today’s current local market. It is always better to bring an offer that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off the seller and hurt your negotiations.
  • Think long term. Think of not only of your needs in a home but also the future buyer – how will it be to re-sell the home? When you buy a home, you need to consider the lot as well. Homes with steep hills or on busy roads will be harder to sell in the future. Beyond that, whether you have children or not, you should buy in a neighborhood with good schools. Schools will have an impact on your new home’s resale value in the future. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire a home inspector, who can point out potential problems or concerns that could require costly repairs in the future.

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