A new home is a very important purchase in your life and can be a complex process.
There are a few things that you can do to help make the process go as smooth as possible:
Check your Credit
Before you apply for a home loan, regardless of your credit, it’s a smart idea to obtain a copy of your credit report and review the information. If there are errors or things that need to be addressed, it’s easier to address them before you have found a house, than after you have found a house and are trying to close your loan.
Get approved before you buy
An approval means that a lender has reviewed your credit history, verified your assets and employment, and has approved your loan before you have found a home to purchase. As long as the home appraises for at least the purchase price, the loan should close.
Getting approved also gives you an advantage over other buyers. Your firm approval makes it easier for you to negotiate on the price of a home.
Find a great buyer’s agent
Traditionally real estate agents represent the sellers in a transaction. When you are not working with a buyer’s agent, they are less likely to negotiate the best price or contingencies for you.
Before working with an agent, establish if they are a buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent.
Learn about the neighbourhood
Often times the house you find may be in a neighborhood that you’re not familiar with. This just means that you’ll have to do a little more research. If you find a house that you like, ask for a list of the neighborhood properties that sold in the last year.
- How does your home rank?
- Is it at the top of the price range?
- Is it average or on the low end?
Check out the schools – A good school district means your neighborhood will always be valued by families which is a great reassurance to purchase, not to mention the value-add if you have school-age children.
Next, contact the police station and obtain crime statistics.
- Are they acceptable to you?
Talk to the neighbors. The more people you talk to, the better sense you will get of who makes up the neighborhood and how they will effect your time spent in it.
Check out the location of the shopping, police and fire stations, schools, and air traffic overhead. These are all things that might affect your property value or quality of your life.
Ask your Realtor for a copy of the documents you will be asked to sign if you decide to buy the house. Read them ahead of time so that you’ll understand the questions that you will be asked, the things you need to know, and the decisions you will need to make.
Have reasonable expectation
Emotions are high for both buyers and sellers. – The seller may have loving memories and years of sweat equity in the house. Maybe they are being relocated and don’t want to go. Understanding their motivations for selling will help you appreciate their situation and predicament during these emotional times.
Remember that market value (the value of a home) is the price that a willing buyer and a willing seller can agree to. If you can not agree on a price, ask yourself:
- Is there something you missed?
- Are there comparables that support the price that they want?
- Are there motivations that might factor into the price they are demanding?
- In the end, does it matter?
- What is the house worth to you today and what do you think you can reasonably sell it for based on the amount of time you plan to spend in it?
Think about the answers to those questions before you make your move.
No house is perfect – Always get an inspection. It might be a few hundred dollars, but it’s worth it. It’s the inspector’s job to find any problems with the house that could cost you thousands to repair down the road. Get objective opinions that you trust before making a decision on an inspection report. Likewise, if an inspector says a foundation is cracked but its nothing to worry about – get a second opinion. Ask a handyman for an idea of how much repairs will cost and how complicated they are.
The value of a home fluctuates often, based on many situations, such as the ever-changing market conditions, the condition of the home, and the costs associated with owning it.
Figuring out how much a home is actually worth is a tricky process. You’ll have to do your homework, pull out your calculator, and spend some time learning to recognize certain “value markers.” Once you’ve figured out what a property is worth relative to others that are similar in the area, you can begin to compare various homes.
Where a home is located (within a city, within a neighbourhood, on a particular street, within a single building) is crucial to determining its value. When you begin to compare homes, it’s important to factor location into your house valuation formula. First, think about where the house is located in relation to the entire neighbourhood.
- Are shops and various services within walking distance?
- Is the house close to major forms of transportation and to the schools your children will be attending?
- Is the house too close to any of these services?
Many families want to be within a few blocks of the local public school, but they prefer not to have their backyards adjacent to the school playground.
Next, think about where the house is located on its block.
- Is it on a corner, or on the interior row?
- Is it next to a high-rise building or a three- or six-flat building?
- Are there many homes just like it on the block?
- Does the block have a nice residential feel or is it mixed residential/commercial?