Finding the perfect home for you and your family is not an easy task. You will have to spend a lot of time and energy looking at listings online, viewing properties in person, driving from house to house, and looking at many of them. Even so, there’s absolutely no guarantee that you will eventually find your ideal home. Being well-prepared will make the process infinitely smoother. Here are 6 critical steps you’ll need to take before even setting foot in an open house:
1. Narrow down your basic wants, likes and needs
The more concrete the concept of your perfect home is, the more likely you are to find it, and recognize it when you see it. Ask yourself: Is a garage a must? What about a finished basement or a big backyard? Do you prefer more of a country style or something modern? All these small decisions will help you refine your search, saving you time, gas and unnecessary trips. Always check the satellite view before seeing a property. Many times the surroundings alone will cause you to scratch a house from your list (e.g. across from a school or truck garage). This is a BIG timesaver very often.
2. Make sure the numbers work
In this seller’s market, assume you will be paying the full price when calculating what you need for a down payment and closing costs, and what your monthly payment will be. Don’t forget to include PMI if you are putting down less than 20%. If you do pay less than the asking price, the numbers only get prettier. If you’re renting now, don’t forget it’s a different ballgame when owning. You have to pay for heat and hot water now where perhaps you did not before. You may also have to factor in that monthly train ticket you’ll now be buying, or on the flip side might save local income taxes if you leave NYC for the ‘burbs. Make sure you don’t use every penny you have. If it’s a co-op you are buying, the board will want to see proof that you will have money left over after you buy. “Reserves” they call it, usually at least a year’s cost of the apartment.
3. Think About Size
How much space do you need? Is a 1200 square foot house big enough? Is 2400 square feet too much? Also remember you have to heat the house you buy. Is it gas or oil and is the furnace an old oil-guzzler, or new and fuel efficient. To make your search easier, think about a minimum and maximum size that you’re comfortable with, and stick to it no matter how pretty a too-small or too-large home may be.
4. Think About Space
You might have to tear down a wall or two to get the big living room you’ve always wanted, but may not want to redesign an entire house. Take a moment to think about how you want your space to be laid out and try to find a home that matches your expectations. Minimal adjustments are doable, but avoid extreme makeovers.
5. Prepare yourself mentally
Buying a home is a very stressful endeavor, albeit a beneficial one. Better than a spinal tap! Grasping that beforehand will help you avoid mistakes, like letting a house you love go to someone else, or buying a home that you really don’t love. Your Realtor is your best defense against the stress from the first viewing to the closing.
6. Should You Hire a Realtor? YES!!
A good Realtor will do all the dirty work for you and interview you in detail to help match your preferences and budget to available properties, arrange showings, and guide you through the entire process, right to the closing table and beyond. If you are a buyer, there’s another bonus: The SELLER PAYS your agent! Why would you even think about going it alone?
You can reach George at (914) 760–6858
About George Campolo:
George Campolo is an Associate Real Estate Broker with RE/MAX Distinguished Homes and Properties, serving the Westchester/Bronx/Putnam area and points beyond. Highly respected for his unique marketing strategies tailored to individual sellers, he also specializes in working with first-time buyers who might otherwise encounter the pitfalls often found when buying a home or investment property. George Campolo’s clients come first, and he is a fierce advocate for their best interests.
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