Buying a house is one of the most significant financial decisions that you'll make in your lifetime. One you want to make sure you get right! But how do you make sure you find the right one? We've got you covered with our top tips for making sure you find the perfect house the first time.
Set A Budget
Seriously. Set. A. Budget! Then stick to it! Before you start touring homes, and before you even start wistfully browsing the latest offerings on Zillow; you need to have a concrete budget. Take a realistic look at your finances and figure out how much mortgage you can truly afford. Keep in mind, being able to make a payment and being able to afford a payment are two very different things. The last thing you want is to commit to a mortgage that stretches you too think month after month. It may seem difficult to figure out your price range, but there are plenty of tools and people out there who can help, which leads us to our next tip.
Yes, the first two tips are about finances. Not exactly the most exciting part of buying a home, but it is absolutely crucial to ensuring you are happy with your purchase in the long term. Meet with a mortgage broker or lender to discuss your options and get pre-approved early on in the process. You and your lender can discuss different programs, loan types, and give you a very good idea of what you can afford. This will be the most important step in determining the price range you'll be shopping in. Once you have a good grasp on the financial aspect of buying a home, you can prepare yourself to begin the house hunt!
Make A Priority List
It isn't uncommon to have to make a few compromises when purchasing a home. For most people, getting absolutely everything they want in a dream home is simply unrealistic. What will help is making a list of what is most important to you.
Think about this as three categories:
Deal Breakers: These are things you need in your house that you simply will not budge on. This could really be anything; having a large backyard for a garden, having central air conditioning, or having at least 3 bedrooms to fit the whole family. Be realistic at this stage. Ask yourself this question: if a house has everything I want EXCEPT this feature, would I still want it? If the answer is yes, then it probably isn't a deal breaker.
Very Important: These are things you feel strongly about but won't necessarily prevent you from purchasing a house. Perhaps it is having a dual sink in the bathroom or a gas stove (people are picky about stoves). This is a list of items you really want but don't need. You don't want to give them up, but you will in the right situation.
Flexible Wants: This is an easy part of the list to make. This is everything else you think would be great to have but don't influence your decision making all too much. Updated kitchen cabinets, a wood fireplace, a wrap-around porch. Feel free to look for a house with these features, but don't get too caught up if they are absent from the house.
Now that you have a prioritized list of what you want, you can actually start looking! Hopefully you were realistic in making your list. If you have a $300,000 budget and put indoor heated pool on your deal breakers you will be sorely disappointed.
Find A Real Estate Agent
If you are buying a home, you will not pay a dime to a real estate agent. Their commission comes from the seller, so do yourself a favor and find a good one. If you need all the reasons to get a real estate agent we've already put together a handy article highlighting everything! The key point is that they will take away a massive amount of the work involved in finding a home. You can provide them with everything you've prepared (your budget & priority list) and they will start searching high and low for you.
This is when the really fun part begins. You'll start looking at listings online with your agent, and soon be scheduling tours. Stay in your budget, be mindful of priority list, and listen to the advice of your agent. This will help you stay focused and make sure you are picking a house that will be just right for you.
Finding the right home will take time, and once you find one you love there is still plenty of work to do. Making offers, inspection, and you still have to close! Don't worry, we have plenty of articles to help prepare you, and if you are in Oregon or Washington we have plenty of agents who can help!