6 House Hunting Tips
1. Get Pre Approved- It is imperative to sit down with a mortgage professional and receive advice about what you can afford and what you want to spend on your purchase. Many buyers may technically be able to afford a higher priced home but purchasing the home will result in reducing their current lifestyle. Have a mortgage professional run the numbers for you and break down the monthly cost of your price range to decide what you are able to spend. There is nothing worse than finding that dream home and falling in love with it, only to find out later it exceeds the maximum you can afford. This heartbreak can be avoided by a short meeting with a mortgage professional. For this reason, I actually require my buyers to pre-qualify before we ever start the house hunt.
2. Virtual Drive By- With technology you can do what I like to call a “virtual drive by” using online features like Google Earth. You can see how close the neighbours are to the house, what the exterior of the home looks like and also how close the home is to the street. You can also explore what is located close to the home ie. shopping, stop lights, etc.. (some photos from Google Earth may be a little older and certain exteriors may have been updated) but it will give you a good idea of what the area is like without having to pack up the kids and go for a drive.
3. Have a plan- When buying a home think in terms of how long you will be living there barring unforeseen circumstances. Many first time home buyers try to buy the “Dream Home” without being realistic about what they can afford. If you think about your first home as a 5 or 10 year plan then you can use it as a stepping stone to the “Dream Home”. This could also have an impact on the term of mortgage that will be a good fit for you.
4. Timeline- A timeline is a good idea to set so you know when you want to buy etc.. for example if you are currently renting have you given proper notice to move? Is your lease almost up? Or if you have a house to sell prior to buying, it is a good idea to find out from your Realtor® what the average time on the market is and fit that into your timeline. (example if the average time on the market in your area is 60 days, then allow two months before you are expected to receive an offer and then another month or two for a closing date after that. The process from listing your home for sale to actually moving out can be 3-8 months. These are factors you should consider before you make the purchase.
5. Be ready to sign an offer- When I am showing homes and I know my clients “like” the house but they are hesitant to put an offer in, I always ask them one question: “If I told you later tonight or tomorrow that the home has been sold” would you be okay with that?” If they answer yes, then I know it is not the home for them and we continue our search. However, if they say “No, I would be devastated, then I always suggest trying an offer. There is nothing worse than finding a home you love and waiting too long only to find out you might be in competition or that it has been sold already.
6. Ask your Realtor for help. What many people don’t realize is a Realtor® almost always gets paid from the Seller and doesn't cost the buyer any money. Why not have a Real Estate Professional working for you at no cost? We are here to assist you in the home buying process from the search to the offer and negotiations and even with closing day preparations. When house hunting, there is no reason to go it alone.