Whether you are in the market as a first time or an experienced buyer, these tips with help prepare you for the home-buying process to find what suits you and your budget best.
The first step is to get pre-qualified says Nellie Lazar, Broker and Realtor associate for Century 21. Lending regulations change frequently. There are also prices beyond the loan, such as closing or inspection fees, to be aware of. For this reason, it is important to know where you stand by setting a price point and allowing more spending time.
“This saves you time all the way around, and puts you in a better place to negotiate,” says Lazar.
Sue Unger, Realtor and sales manager for Prudential California Reality, calls this purchasing power and positioning. Unger recommends that buyers be prepared to be ‘players,’ in other words, they must do their homework. Being pre-qualified and knowing your preferences will make the process, especially negotiation, smoother for everyone involved. Buyers, sellers, realtors and lenders, to name a few, must work together. This includes determining where to buy, knowing the price ranges of nearby by properties, the sustainability of the neighborhood, school districts, the age of the house, and price per square foot. Unger also recommends attending open houses and collecting statistics from available fliers.
“Then we can take the handcuffs off the buyer,” she adds, giving the buyer and their team fewer restrictions.
Finding the ideal home is all about your individual vision, says Lazar. It is important that you make a list of your preferences. For example, will this be a short-term or forever home? Three bedrooms or four? Storage space or a big backyard? It is also wise to consider the re-sale value, and whether you are willing to invest in improvements.
In addition to establishing financing and priorities, “get as many inspections as possible,” says Lazar, “so there are no surprises down the road.” This is to ensure the buyer can account for improvements within their budget, and negotiate accordingly.
Both Unger and Lazar agree this is currently a ‘seller’s market,’ meaning buyers are competing, and should be aware of this. Low mortgage rates and rising property values put an emphasis on making bids in a timely manner. If you lose your bid because you are not prepared to be a ‘player,’ Unger warns, “You might not get another chance.”
The digital age has allowed for people to do their shopping online. While this gives people a broad overview and the ability to research independently, but it is still a good idea to work with an agent, says Lazar. Many websites are not up to date and lack information that can cause the buyer to lose out. It is essential to have a good relationship with your realtor, says Lazar. Your agent will know your needs and provide you with resources accordingly. Lazar suggests interviewing or asking for recommendations from people you trust when it comes to choosing a realtor or lender, “then you can be confident the job will get done."