Buying a home can be scary. Trust me, I know… I've done it twice. But those have also been two of the best decisions of my life. So today I wanted to share some tips for ensuring that your home buying process goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Figure out exactly what you want ahead of time. Make a list of “must haves” and “cannot haves” and think about the architecture style and location as well. But be realistic… odds are you won't find a home with every single “must have” and none of the “cannot haves.” But it's a great place to start, especially if you're buying with a significant other. Check out more tips for buying your dream house over at Freshome.
2. Shop around for the right agent for you. It's important to look for someone who will put in enough time and effort to help find the right house for you, and it's also helpful to have someone who shares your energy level. If you're casually looking at houses and you aren't in a time crunch, a laid-back agent might a good idea. But if you're a go-getter with a deadline in mind, be sure to find someone who will really step up to the plate for you. Note: you may want to get preapproved before you find an agent… many will view this as a sign that you are serious about the process.
3. Take tons of pictures when you tour homes. Even though you think you'll remember all of those little details, they will all start to blur together once you start looking at multiple houses. The images will be great visual reminders of each home's pros and cons when you're making a decision.
4. Act fast once you decide to make an offer. This is especially true in large cities and their surrounding areas. In many Greater Boston home sales, a house goes on the market one week and offers are due the following week. And there's usually a bidding war. If this is the case in your area, be prepared to make a snap decision. Check out this helpful timeline from HouseLogic for more tips.
5. Find a way to sweeten your offer. I've written a letter to the homeowner for every offer I've made, and I've gotten two out of the three homes. A fast close can also be appealing to sellers if they are trying to get the process done quickly (or vise versa). Some people might tell you to waive the inspection, but I would not recommend this approach. Inspections uncover tons of (hopefully small) issues with any home, and it's smart to know about them before you sign on the dotted line.
6. Shop around for the best loan for you. There are tons of loans out there, and they are all different… so make sure you do your research. If you're not sure what the best loan for you would be, you might consider working with a mortgage broker. I did both times and they were super helpful.
7. Be prepared for hiccups. I can't think of a single friend who didn't have a small issue with the loan process. So be mentally prepared for problems, but also know that usually there is a solution. So don't panic!
8. Don't make any financial changes. Don't do anything differently than you have been doing in the last couple of months… don't get a new credit card, don't buy a car, don't open a retirement account. Hold off on any major changes or purchases until after you close.
9. Take notes during the inspection. If there are any major problems, your offer should have been written so that you could back out of the deal at this point. For other issues, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to have them fix the problem before closing. You'll need those notes when you talk to your real estate attorney (which you must have… don't skimp here!).
10. Schedule movers, painters, contractors, etc. to come right after you close so you can move in as soon as possible. Other things to think about ahead of time to make the process go smoothly: cable/internet, garbage pickup, water/electricity, and other utilities.
Do you have more tips? Feel free to share them in the comments section below. Good luck with the process!