Looking For A Home?
The single biggest reason most people buy a home is the simple desire to own a home of their own. At the same time, homeowners accumulate wealth for the future while enjoying the benefits of a residence that they can use, improve and enjoy. What’s different is each individual’s wishlist of essentials; from public transportation to the number of bedrooms, we can help you create a comprehensive list and go from there.
1 2010 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Seller
What’s the Right Home For You?
Before deciding which house to buy, consider your lifestyle, current and anticipated housing needs and budget. It’s a good idea to create a prioritized list of features you want in your new home, you will quickly discover finding the right house involves striking a balance between your
“must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves.”
If you love to cook, you’ll appreciate a well-equipped kitchen. If you’re into gardening, you’ll want a yard. If a home office is a must, you’ll need a room that will provide you adequate work space. If you have several cars, you may require a larger garage.
Next, think about what you might need in the future, and how long you are likely to live in this particular home. If you’re newly married, you might not be concerned with a school district right now, but you could be in a few years. If you have aging parents, you may want to look at homes that offer living arrangements that could accommodate them as well.
It’s important to think about your new home’s location just as carefully as its features. In addition to considering the distance to work, evaluate what matters to you in terms of services, convenience and accessibility, such as shopping, police, fire protection, medical facilities, schools, daycare and recreational facilities.
Be sure to talk to your real estate professional about where you want to live and what’s most important to you. While buyers frequently use the Internet to gain access to listings or available properties for sale, an agent brings value to the entire home buying process. He or she is available to analyze data, answer questions, share their professional expertise, and handle all the paperwork and legwork that is involved in any real estate transaction. Your S&S Real Estate Service, Inc. professionals can help their clients narrow their choices by sharing market trends and local information.
TIP: It’s also important to consider the type of home that suits you best. Is it a condominium or a co-op? A townhouse or detached single-family home? Do you want brick, stone, stucco, wood, vinyl siding, or something else? Do you prefer a new home or an older one?
How Much Can You Afford?
Now that you know what you’re looking for, the next step is figuring out what type of home you can afford. A review of your income, savings, monthly expenses and debt will be necessary.
Early in the process, you’ll want to get pre-qualified for a mortgage loan. It enables you to move swiftly when you find the right home in todays market, especially when there are other interested buyers. It also indicates to the seller that you are serious and can afford to buy the property. A pre-approval is a simple calculation done by a mortgage lender that tells you the amount you’ll be able to finance through a loan and what your monthly payment will be.
The price you can afford to pay for a home will depend on several factors, such as:
- Gross income
- The funds you have available for the down payment, closing costs and cash reserves required by the lender
- Your debt
- Your credit history
- The type of mortgage you select
- Current interest rates
Another figure that lenders use to evaluate how much you can afford is the housing expense-to-income ratio. It is determined by calculating your projected monthly housing expense, which consists of the principal and interest payment, property tax payments and insurance premiums on your new home loan (also known as PITI).
Each buyer is unique, and a mortgage professional can help you find out just what you can afford. Your income and debts will typically play the biggest roles in determining your price range. It’s simple to make an estimate – just run the numbers for yourself using our Mortgage Calculator on this page to help.
Know Your Neighborhood
Evaluating a neighborhood and surrounding areas thoroughly is essential.
When you buy a home, you’re investing in a community. You’ll spend a significant amount of time and money supporting the schools, community organizations and commercial centers in the area. Before you make the final decision, take a good look at the location and make sure it fits your lifestyle. For example:
- Evaluate the property’s proximity to other important locations in your life. How long will your commute time be? Is there a hospital or doctor’s office nearby? What about schools, childcare, shopping, family and friends?
- Consider all of your transportation options. A new home could lend itself to public transportation options or carpooling. Depending on the type of community, you may be able to find alternative methods of transportation. Take the time to drive from the new home to your commuting destinations, to get a sense of what your daily life will be like.
- Make sure you feel comfortable in the area. Drive around the neighborhood at different times of the day and night on multiple days of the week to observe activity and noise levels. An educated buyer is a happy one!
S&S Real Estate Service professionals are a tremendous resource. Ask your agent regarding schools, shopping centers, parks or other amenities that are important to you. Buying a new home is about more than the structure and property. It’s about your new lifestyle as well.
TIP: Visit and understand the school district. Even if you don’t have children in the school system now, you may some day. The district reputation could positively or negatively impact the selling price of your future home as well.
Already Have a Home?
Buying a new home and selling an existing home at the same time has its own set of challenges. With knowledgeable planning, you can ensure everything goes smoothly.
Before putting your house on the market or committing to buying a new one, take a look at the prices of houses in the areas where you’ll be selling and buying. You’ll need a realistic idea of sales prices for similar houses, so you can assess both your buying and selling position.
What if you’re unable to time the sale of one house with the purchase of another? You may own no houses for a time, in which case you’ll need money in the bank and a temporary place to live. Or, you may own two houses at once. That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan. Here are some options to consider:
- Research short-term rental and storage options (family, friends, storage facilities, containers).
- Bridge financing (a short-term loan) for the down payment on a new home backed by the equity in your old house.
Buying a Second Home
Buying a second home isn’t all that different from buying a first home. Affording it usually depends on your ability to qualify for a mortgage on the second home. Benefits include a getaway for the family on vacations or holidays, a future retirement home, or renters making your mortgage payments for you.
Keep in mind that if you declare it as a rental, your mortgage might be slightly higher and your down payment requirements higher than a standard mortgage. Work with your lender to create a customized loan program with the best combination of rate, points, and closing costs to meet your needs.
TIP: A second home can be a good investment. To make the most of the opportunity, be sure you factor in sources for your down payment and monthly expenses (including the costs of maintaining the property).
Buying a property is a big step involving a substantial long-term financial commitment, so it requires a thorough assessment of what you can afford.
Making an Offer
Making an offer to purchase a home has its own set of factors. Rely on a S&S Real Estate Service, Inc. Agent’s experience and knowledge to make a successful home buying offer.
Making a Home Buying Offer
Once you’ve found your ideal house, it’s time to get started with the financial and contractual side of the purchase. Let your S&S Real Estate Service, Inc. professional guide you through this process. Purchase contracts vary in length and terms from state to state, and sometimes within a state.
Multiple offers on the same home are not uncommon, so you may only get one chance to make an offer that the seller will consider. That’s why it’s important to think carefully about your strategy. In most cases it is better to have your real estate professional present the offer. If you have any personal interaction with the homeowner, avoid sharing any information about your move, your current housing status, financial status or your feelings about their property – positive or negative. This could work against you in future negotiations.
TIP: You and the seller have different goals, so it’s important to consult with your S&S Real Estate Service Agent. He or she can bring order to the process, and will know what questions to ask to help you reach a desirable outcome
How much should you pay for the home? This section will help you to determine an appropriate amount to offer to secure a winning bid.
Your S&S Real Estate Service professional can help you find out what other homes have sold for in the area, and how much money you might have to put into repairs or renovations. These considerations should be a factor along with the amount you’re comfortable spending.
In addition to sale prices of other comparable homes, there are several ways you can come up with a winning bid. For example:
- The condition of the house. Is the home in move-in condition, in need of paint and other cosmetic improvements, or a fixer-upper that needs real work?
- The market. If you are in a buyer’s market — where there are more homes for sale than there are people to buy them — prices are probably stable or falling. If you are in a seller’s market — where there are more buyers looking for homes than there are homes for sale — prices are probably moving upward.
- Your ceiling. If you have a credit pre-approval, you know how much you can borrow for your home purchase. Of course, you may not be comfortable paying as much as you’ve been approved to borrow, so think carefully about your financial situation before making an offer.
Next, decide how much you are willing to pay for a home. Remember, the advertised price of a house is just a starting point – it may take quite a bit of negotiating to arrive at a final cost.
TIP: The value or disadvantage of certain features can help or hurt resale. In some areas, a swimming pool actually detracts from a home’s value, and makes it harder to sell. In neighborhoods with two-car, attached garages, a single-car or detached garage may affect the home sale and future value.