6 Best-Kept Secrets for Buying a Home
Deciding to buy a home is a big project and not one that you should go into lightly. There’s a lot involved in the home buying process and if you aren’t expecting it, everything can quickly become overwhelming and much more difficult than it needs to be.
Although the best tips for buying a home will be different depending on your financial situation, where you’re searching, and what type of home you’re looking for, there are a few home buying secrets that ring true no matter what.
Secret #1: Inspect the area beforehand
Any house can look great in photos, but how about the neighborhood? Is it somewhere you want to move to or do you feel uneasy when you walk the dog at night?
The neighborhood and area surrounding your home are just as important, if not more so than the home that you buy. Before you even make an offer on the home, take a stroll through the neighborhood both during the day and at night so that you get a better feeling for it. If you’ve just moved cities and you’re not familiar with the different neighbourhoods, then it might be working with buyers’ agents like the team at B Street so that you can be sure you’re purchasing in the right area. Someone with experience across different suburbs can also provide valuable market insights so that you can make an informed purchasing decision.
When inspecting the surrounding area, determine how far you’re willing to drive for basic facilities: grocery stores, the library, the kids’ school, etc. Some areas will be much further from the city and therefore further from many major stores, but there may be a smaller grocery store close enough that you don’t mind the drive. It’s important to take the time to make this decision, though.
Secret #2: Avoid “sleeper costs”
First-time home buyers often don’t realize that their mortgage payments aren’t going to be the only thing they’ll be paying. In addition to mortgage costs, you may have to pay for utilities, homeowner association fees, and property taxes. If you aren’t expecting these, you may not be able to afford the home after all.
When you’re looking at a home, make sure that you investigate all potential costs that will be in addition to your monthly mortgage. If a seller tells you there won’t be any, be suspicious. Most properties will have hidden additional fees or costs and anyone that says otherwise may not be honest.
Secret #3: Get pre-approved for your mortgage
Another mistake many first-time home buyers make is thinking that pre-approval means commitment. While it may feel like committing to a lender, pre-approval is nowhere near the final step of the process. A lender will still need to see all your documents and give you an official approval letter. Pre-approval simply shows that a lender believes you may be approved for a certain amount.
Getting pre-approved is important because it will give you a better idea of how much money you may be approved for and can give you a basic guideline on what to expect. You’ll also have a bit more negotiating power when it comes time to officially get approved.
Secret #4: You can’t time the market
Many people think that if they just hold out, the market is going to shift in their favor. Others plan and theorize in an attempt to determine the absolute best time to buy a home.
While it is true that home prices fluctuate over the years, there’s no way to predict this. Unexpected events can cause a sudden market crash or may lead to everyone trying to sell their home. Even if you can account for predictable market trends and figure out when a good time to buy is, you can’t anticipate the unexpected, so don’t try.
If you try to time the market, it can lead to frustration when things don’t go accordingly. Rather than obsess over finding the perfect day, month, and year to buy, just start looking.
Secret #5: Consider getting the property surveyed
There are a couple of reasons why you should survey the property.
While it would be nice to be able to trust every seller, you simply can’t. You never know if the seller is trying to sell more property than they actually own or if a neighbor has encroached on the space illegally. Additionally, a property survey will help you when it comes time to pay property taxes.
If you’re serious about a home, get the property surveyed before you buy. You may be able to negotiate with the seller if you discover they’re being dishonest about the land, but you’ll also know exactly where your property begins and ends to avoid a confrontation with the new neighbor.
Secret #6: Hire a home inspector
Hiring a home inspector will help you feel much more at ease when you commit to a home. With an inspection report in hand, you’ll have a clear idea of what areas of the home need immediate improvement, which areas may be future renovation projects, and any other potential complications such as mold or pests.
If you have specific concerns, you may want to look into hiring a specialist as there are some things that a home inspector won’t look for. If you’re worried about proper electrical wiring, plumbing, pest infestations, or the roof, a specialist will be better able to examine these areas and provide you with a thorough report.
When you get your home inspected, it gives you a powerful ledge for negotiation. The home inspector may find a problem that will cost thousands of dollars to repair and with the report in hand, you can either back out of a deal or ask the seller to lower the price accordingly.
Keep Your Head on Straight
The housing market can be crazy and it’s easy to get swept up in it. If you make quick or rash decisions, though, you may end up with a home that you either can’t afford or that isn’t right for you.
As buying a home is a big investment, be sure to take the time to plan, look around, and investigate everything before you decide to place an offer. You may just end up with a better deal in the long run.