Buying Guide

Quick Start Guide to Buying a Home

Buying a home is a major undertaking, one with emotional, financial, and practical implications. A little planning beforehand can yield some significant benefits once you start looking in earnest. Good planning can also help you get the best deal, find the right house, and reduce the stress of the buying process.

Here are 10 considerations to review before the search begins:

1. Develop a Wish List Try to develop a list of features that are most important to you before you start looking at homes. Once the search begins it is easy to forget items or get caught up in the excitement and buy a home that doesn't meet you initial targets only to b e sorry after the closing. You may not be able to find a home with every feature you want, but at least make sure you have considered the deficiency and decide you can accept it.

2. Detertime your Target Areas Consider which communities meet your needs and expectations. Key considerations include ease of commute, quality of schools, accessibility of local shopping and entertainment and the quality of area recreational facilities.

3. Research the Market It's important to know what to expect before diving into the market. Can you afford the house your expect? Is the market overheated? If so, you may have to more quickly and aggressively when you find something suitable. On the other hand, if sales are slow you may be able to shop for a deal. Your agent can be a big help with your market research.

4. Work with your Agent Make sure your agent knows your needs and desires so he or she can show you properties that are suitable. If affordability is an issue discusses with your agent what you can realistically expect to find in your price range.

5. Get organized Searching for a home can be a hectic and stressful process, so it makes sense to get organized before your begin. Assemble all of your financial records to speed up the mortgage approval process. Get Pre-Qualified Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage is a great idea for several reasons.

6. In addition to giving you a strong idea of what you can afford and lowering your stress level during the home search, pre-qualification can really give you a bargaining chip when dealing with sellers. A seller may be inclined to accept a lower offer - or take yours over another buyer's if your financing is already lined up.

7. Assess Things Realistically Try to consider each step in the buying process calmly and realistically. If the market is booming you will have to be prepared to act quickly, but you still need to exercise reasoned judgment. Similarly, if you plan to purchase a home that needs work try to get accurate and reasonable estimates of the costs involved so you don't end up with any nasty surprises after the closing.

8. Cover your Contingencies Remember to make any offer contingent upon any conditions you will require before closing. Common contingencies such as financing, satisfactory inspection and the repair of deficient items in the house are routinely included in the contract. An offer is usually make before you have obtained complete information on a property and the contract contingencies protect you until you can check things out fully.

9. Don't forget the Home Inspection A comprehensive home inspection prior to closing is a must. Make sure to hire a qualified inspector and to allow time to review the report prior to closing. That said, it is not necessary to insist that the seller address every single item on the report. Many inspection report items essentially represent minor wear and tear and demanding the seller repair every one of these can wreck the deal. You Realtor and attorney can provide guidance in this regard.

10. Be prepared at Closing Closings are often protracted or even delayed because the parties are not prepared in advance. Make sure to bring your file of all paperwork pertaining to the purchase. At the very least you will want to have the contract, all documents pertaining to your mortgage, and copies of all inspection reports and correspondence between the parties. While you will be bringing certified funds to pay the purchase costs, it is a good idea to bring your checkbook as well to cover any minor last minute expenses.