Our Real Estate Blog
In the internet age, we’ve all seen dream homes on Google, Pinterest, or Instagram that seem to encompass everything we’ve ever wanted in a home.
Sometimes, obsessing over dream homes can be detrimental to us--making us feel bad about our own living situation or discouraged about ever being able to afford the home we truly want.
However, dream homes can serve a purpose when it comes to identifying what we really want out of a home.
In today’s post, we’re going to use the idea of a dream home “wish list” to help you narrow down what really matters to you and your family in your next home.
Step 1: Start by making a list of your dream homes
This is the easy part. If you’re like me, you probably have a Pinterest board or bookmark folder just for home inspiration.
Put all of the dream homes on your list. The order doesn’t matter, and you’ll find out why below.
Step 2: For each home, write down one or two of your favorite things
Is it the square footage? The location that’s perfect for your commute or for trips to your favorite places? Or, is it just the color scheme of the kitchen?
No aspect is too small for this list--it all depends on what you like, not what the price tag is.
Step 3: Go over your list and try to put the items in order of how much they matter to you.
An example would be:
A cheerful, bright colored kitchen
A cozy office to wok quietly in
A two-car garage
A playroom for the kids
A location that’s close to the water
Looking over these five things, there are only two items that can’t be found in most houses, a two-car garage and a location that’s near the water. And, this house-hunter didn’t even list those items as the most important.
So, what can we learn from this exercise? Oftentimes, the things we’re looking for the most in a home can be things that we can do later, like interior decorating or designating spare rooms to serve as an office or playroom.
Step 4: Use your top 3 when house hunting
Now that you have the top three things that you’d find in your dream home, take this list with you on your house hunt. Try to seek out a home that has a combination of these items and one that will be the most practical for your family.
You might find that these conveniences, such as being closer to your work for a shorter commute, will pay off in the long run, as they’ll let you spend more time with our family and make each day a little bit easier.
Purchasing a home may prove to be an arduous process, particularly for those who fail to plan ahead for the property buying journey. Thankfully, there are many quick, easy ways to streamline the homebuying cycle.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you become a smart homebuyer.
1. Study the Real Estate Market
A smart homebuyer realizes the housing market fluctuates constantly. In fact, a real estate market that favors sellers today may favor buyers tomorrow, or vice-versa. But if a homebuyer reviews the housing sector closely, he or she can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market and plan accordingly.
Oftentimes, it helps to analyze the prices of recently sold houses in your preferred cities and towns. This will enable you to see whether houses are selling at or near their initial asking prices. It also will allow you to find out how long homes are available before they sell.
2. Obtain Home Financing
A smart homebuyer understands the importance of getting a mortgage before he or she pursues a residence. Thus, this buyer will meet with lenders and get pre-approved for home financing to further accelerate the homebuying journey.
Generally, it won't take long to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who can help homebuyers quickly analyze various home financing options. These specialists can teach you about a broad array of mortgage options and help you weigh the pros and cons of different mortgages. Then, once you evaluate all of your mortgage options, you can select a mortgage and kick off the homebuying journey with a budget in hand.
3. Hire a Real Estate Agent
A smart homebuyer knows that working alone to find and purchase a house can be difficult. Therefore, this buyer will allocate time and resources to hire a real estate agent who can provide comprehensive assistance throughout the homebuying journey.
Typically, a real estate agent is a must-have for a homebuyer, regardless of the current housing market's conditions. A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing sector and is happy to share his or her expertise with any homebuyer, at any time.
When it comes to navigating the homebuying journey, a real estate agent is ready to help you in any way possible. For instance, if you need help finding a residence in a particular city or town, a real estate agent will make it simple to narrow your house search. On the other hand, if you want to buy a new house as quickly as possible, a real estate agent will ensure you can discover your dream residence on your timeline. Best of all, a real estate agent will respond to any of your homebuying concerns and questions and help you make informed decisions at each stage of the homebuying cycle.
Enter the housing market as a smart homebuyer – use the aforementioned tips, and you can increase the likelihood of enjoying a successful homebuying journey.
As a homebuyer, it is important to set high expectations. At the same time, a homebuyer must act reasonably, or he or she risks missing out on a golden opportunity to acquire the perfect residence.
Ultimately, becoming a reasonable homebuyer can be quick and easy – here are three tips to help you do just that.
1. Establish Realistic Expectations for the Homebuying Journey
The homebuying journey sometimes can take weeks or months to complete, and a homebuyer should plan accordingly. By doing so, a homebuyer can prepare for any potential homebuying pitfalls.
For example, a homebuyer may submit an offer on a home and receive a "Yes" from a home seller. But if a home inspector discovers myriad problems with a residence, a homebuyer may need to walk away from the house and restart the homebuying journey.
In the aforementioned scenario, a homebuyer may become frustrated and annoyed, and for good reason. Conversely, if a homebuyer understands the challenges associated with buying a house, he or she can plan for the best- and worst-case scenarios.
2. Search for Homes That Fall Within Your Price Range
Have you established a budget for your home search? If not, you may wind up focusing on houses that you won't be able to afford.
Get pre-approved for a home loan – you'll be glad you did. With a home loan in hand, you can enter the real estate market with a homebuying budget. Then, you'll be able to narrow your home search to houses that fall within your price range, thereby speeding up your search for the ideal residence.
It won't take long to get pre-approved for a home loan, either. In fact, if you meet with local banks and credit unions, you can instantly learn about a variety of home loan options.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
Although you know that you want to buy a house, you have no idea what to expect during the homebuying journey. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can learn what it takes to stay calm, cool and collected as you search for a house.
A real estate agent is a housing market expert who takes pride in his or her work. As such, a real estate agent will be available to respond to your homebuying concerns and questions, ensuring that you can make an informed home purchase.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to eliminate homebuying hurdles.
For instance, a real estate agent is happy to negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf, guaranteeing that you can avoid the stress of negotiating a home price. Or, if you need help finding a qualified home inspector, real estate attorney or other local professionals, your real estate agent can provide honest, unbiased recommendations.
Be reasonable as you kick off your search for your dream residence. That way, you can seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey and improve your chances of acquiring a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Ultimately, there is no surefire amount that you should spend on a house. The real estate market varies in cities and towns nationwide, and as such, the prices of houses fall across a broad range. Also, the condition and age of a house – as well as a homebuyer's budget – may dictate how much an individual is willing to spend on a particular residence.
As you search for your dream house, it helps to plan ahead as much as you can. Because if you have a homebuying strategy in place, you can determine exactly how much you can spend to acquire your ideal residence.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get your finances in order before you kick off a house search.
1. Check Your Credit Score
Believe it or not, your credit score may have far-flung effects on your homebuying budget. And if you fail to review your credit score before you embark on a house search, you may miss out on an opportunity to purchase your dream house.
A low credit score may make it tough to get the mortgage you need to acquire your ideal residence. Thus, you may want to check your credit score and find ways to improve it before you begin a house search.
You won't have to break your budget to get a copy of your credit report from the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). In fact, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the aforementioned credit bureaus. Request a copy of your credit report, and you can learn your credit score.
Of course, if your credit score is low, you can always improve it by paying off outstanding debt. Or, if you find errors on your credit report, contact the credit bureau that provided the report so that you can get these issues corrected.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Pre-approval for a mortgage makes it easy to enter the housing market with a budget at your disposal. If you meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage sooner rather than later.
Remember, banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists. Don't hesitate to ask these specialists about assorted mortgage options, and you can select a mortgage that perfectly matches your finances.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent can make it simple to pursue your dream house. This housing market professional will help you narrow the price range for your dream house and ensure you can discover the perfect house without delay. Perhaps most important, a real estate agent is happy to negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf, ensuring you can get the best price on any home.
Ready to start a home search? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can simultaneously look for your dream house and avoid the risk of paying too much to purchase your dream residence.
There are many parts and pieces that go into relocation. Finding the perfect home is, of course, an important step in the process. But once you have found a residence in your new city or town, it is crucial to consider other home-ownership factors that will affect your monthly and annual expenses. As part of your relocation preparation, research what other fees and bills you may need to pay outside of your mortgage.
If you’re moving to a new state, review the escrow process and any new, or different, closing costs that may increase the amount you’ll owe. Understand what annual property taxes will be assessed and fees you will be responsible for. Homeowners Associations may also function differently in your new city or state. Closely review all paperwork and research what costs are normal for the area. Know what your requirements are as a homeowner, so you don’t agree to anything outside the norm or incur fees from not aligning to your contract.
Utility costs vary from city to city and state to state, but even within the same city, prices can be different from neighborhood to neighborhood. While you’re house hunting, include a visit to the electricity, water, gas and trash company websites that service the homes you’re considering. For electricity and water, learn what the costs are per unit, time of day and any special programs available for conservation. See what bins your new trash company offers and how much they charge per month. There might be different sizes available to you at different pricing, along with compost or yard waste bins and lower to even free rates for recycling. Your new city may also have monthly fees for general upkeep of parks, greenbelts and other public services.
When you consider the monthly mortgage payment you can afford, it’s smart to take these other costs into account. You might be able to make a mortgage payment, but a high electricity or water bill might put your monthly outgo outside your budget. It’s easy to forget about these little (or big) costs. Make your move easy and successful by planning for monthly and annual costs outside of your mortgage.