That’s it! You’ve had it. You’re tired of throwing money down the drain for rent and want to buy your own little piece of the world. The problem is that you haven’t the slightest clue about where to start.
The best way to begin is simply by asking yourself four key questions before buying a home. I even suggest writing down your answers in a notebook that you’ll keep for the entirety of the search. That way, you can keep the answers in the front of your mind as you look at homes. This will keep your search focused and on track.
1. What kind of home do I want?
It seems like this would be a no-brainer, right? Wrong! So many buyers get started and have no idea what they’re looking for. This just makes the search frustrating and exhausting and, eventually, they give up. Sit down, close your eyes and picture your dream home. Describe it to yourself and write down every little detail. Is it a condo or single family? Two story or one story? How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? Is no basement a deal breaker? How important is closest space? Leave no detail unwritten. You might not be able to find everything you want. However, if you’re clear and honest about what you’re looking for, you’re going to get pretty darn close.
2. How much do I want to spend?
Notice that I didn’t say “How much can I afford?” What you can afford and what you want to spend are, oftentimes, different. More and more of my buyers want to spend less than the maximum they can afford. That’s a good thing because most mortgages are 30 years so you don’t want to be stuck with a monthly payment that you’re not comfortable with. Take a look at your expenses now and decided what kind of monthly payment you would be comfortable with. Then let your lender and your real estate agent know. Trust me, we will do our best to keep you in the zone because we want you to be happy with your purchase in the end.
3. Where do I want to live?
Be brutally honest with yourself on this one. This is where you’re going to make your home and you want to feel completely comfortable there. The worst thing you can do is buy a home in a neighborhood just because everyone else wants to live there or because your friend/family member lives there. You want a home you will live in. If you don’t like your neighborhood, you’re never going to be home. Instead, you’ll always be finding reasons to stay away. I know you don’t want a mortgage for a house you don’t use when you can have a home you don’t want to leave. Choose the neighborhood/town that best suits you and only you. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks because they’re not making the house payments.
4. What kind of agent do I want to work with?
You and your real estate agent are going to be spending a lot of time together. That’s why you want to be sure you feel completely comfortable with this person. It’s not always the agent with the most sales or experience that will be the best fit for you. In fact, I’ve had buyers who started out with the heavy hitter agents. They stopped working with them because they felt like their business wasn’t important enough to those agents or the agents just didn’t understand what they were looking for. Think about the personality type that’s going to make you feel at ease during one of the most important sales transactions of your life. Also, consider if they have experience selling homes in your price range or neighborhood. That kind of experience can be more valuable than just years in the real estate business.
Buying a home is the biggest purchase you’ll make in your life. You’ll never feel any pride quite like the pride that comes with home ownership. The process can be intimidating. It doesn’t have to be, though. Just get yourself a notebook and answer these four questions clearly and honestly. This is for your eyes only so put it all down and keep your answers in mind throughout your search. If you do that, you’ll find the home of your dreams in no time.