How To Buy A New Home

Pre-qualification.  Get pre-qualified. You could afford more of a house than you think, or you may not be able to afford what you thought. There are unbelievable programs available today to help you purchase a home.  Generally, when an offer is presented to a seller, the seller will want to make sure that the buyer is fully qualified before working with them. The seller is taking a huge risk by taking their property off the market with an unqualified buyer. You can simply call a mortgage broker or bank and ask them to pre-qualify you. You have no obligation to them for doing this, and they can usually do it within 10 minutes.

RealtorŪ  Find a knowledgeable Realtor to help you. You can start by asking friends and/or relatives for referrals, or by looking in a neighborhood that you like and see who’s doing the bulk of the business there. If you’re relocating and don’t know anyone or know where you want to be, call a company that’s big in the marketplace you’re moving to. Companies such as RE/MAX Consultants have offices all over the country and outside of the U.S.  Most importantly, choose someone you feel that you can trust.  The best part is that it's absolutely free!

Start looking!  Find the property that matches most of your needs. Decide what neighborhood you want to be in and what's most important to you.  Most houses are not perfect in every way.  You may not have the color paint you like, or the exact carpeting you'd prefer, but does the house meet your needs? If you're concerned with a good investment, try to find the worst house in the best neighborhood.  The other houses will bring the value of yours up.  Make sure to communicate with your agent as to what is most important to you.  

Make an offer.  When you've found the home you like, make an educated offer.  Ask your agent to pull up "comps", meaning comparable properties that have sold in the area.  Just make sure you're comparing the same type of properties, i.e. waterfront to waterfront, similar square footage, remodeling done, etc.  Ask your agent for a "CMA",  a.k.a. comparative market analysis.  This is similar to an appraisal, which will tell you what the property should be worth in today's market.  You will also have to take into account the current marketplace.  Are the values rising, declining, or remaining stable? 

Negotiate.  Be prepared to negotiate!  Most sellers leave a little "room for negotiation" in their price.  Ask your agent what the average list to sale percentage is.  Some properties may be "priced to sell", meaning that there is not much room for negotiation.  Some homes may be overpriced,  and some may actually be underpriced!  The CMA will help you greatly to decide what to offer.  

Adhere to the deadlines. Once you've both come to an agreement, be sure to adhere to all of the deadlines contained in the contract.  Your agent should remind you of all of the deadlines and follow-up with your lender, inspector, closing agent, appraiser, and surveyor (if needed) and make sure that everything gets done in a timely manner.

Pack.  Start packing!  Notify all utility companies of your change in service approximately 5 days before closing.  Your closing agent will tell you the day before closing exactly how much you'll need to bring to closing in the form of a cashier's check.    

Have fun in your new home!