You need a mortgage loan to buy a property that you can call home. You are likely to have a picture in your mind how your home should look like. Among many other things, you may want to ensure that the property you are going to buy has no title dispute, has enough space for you and your family and is in good condition. More importantly, it must be perfectly within your budget.
If you have already been pre-approved, you know the price range within which to look for a home. An equally significant criterion to search for a property is the location – you may want your house to be located in a neighborhood with an active and friendly community. Moreover, you will definitely want necessary amenities and other places of interest within walk-able distances.
Questions to Ask before beginning to House Hunt
To put forward the right foot, you need to frame questions in your mind, giving a concrete shape to the vague picture of your dream home, bringing it alive on a realistic ground. You may like to start with these questions, extending them further to address your own typical housing need.
- Where do I want to live – in an urban location closer to the heart of the city, or in a suburban location away from the bustle of a metro city?
- Do I want a big home with a large yard and playground for kids or a rather small home closer to your work place?
- Is my loan amount sufficient to buy a brand new home in a posh neighborhood? Will I be happy to settle in an old property being resold at a lower price?
- What kind of home will suffice my family need – single-family detached, semi-detached, duplex, townhouses or condos?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do I need in my new home?
- Do I need a big kitchen with lots of closets and cabinet space?
- Am I desirous of a peaceful neighborhood or a locality full of culture, activities and restaurants?
Finding the Right Home – Searching online is the Buzzword
The Internet has emerged as the most comprehensive source of information when it comes to searching for a home in a neighborhood. Reputed realty websites, bank’s online resources of reo properties and foreclosures, Fannie Mae’s HomePath.com, online directories and multiple listing services – all make a big world of real estate for sale.
Whether to Hire a Real Estate Agent
The good old days of hiring real estate agents or brokers is fast becoming a passé. However, the question still exists whether or not to hire a real estate agent, also known as buyer’s agent. If you hire a professional, you are hiring a person with years of experience who can save you from the pain of learning subtle things related to a transaction.
A real estate agent can help you make an offer to purchase like a pro. She knows your neighborhood and can easily identify comparable sales, saving you from paying more and buying a home at its fair market value. A certified agent has access to MLS, a comprehensive database of properties for sale across the nation, helping you find a home as well as negotiate with the seller.
Visit for a Personal Inspection
Prior to making the purchase offer, you may want to see the property for a personal inspection. A prospective buyer can run the shower, turn switch on and off, and open and close doors and windows to get a general idea of the current home condition.
You may also look around and find out more about the neighborhood, ensuring that your future home is closer to many amenities and places of interest, such as hospitals, schools, parks, shopping centers, restaurants and public transportation. Your agent can also give you an idea of the rate of home appreciation in the area.
Found the Dream Home – What Next?
A real estate agent becomes valuable when it comes to write a purchase offer and negotiate with the seller for a counter offer. The agent can obtain information about recently sold homes in your neighborhood and filter out those transactions that are similar to the property you intend to buy.
Based on the market value of a comparable home, the agent, sometimes also referred to as a Realtor (a member of the National Association Realtor), decides on the price and makes an offer to purchase on your behalf.
The seller or selling agent might accept or decline your offer. A buyer’s agent will then negotiate and write a counter offer, if there is a hope to get the deal back. If both the seller and you agree on a price, you sign the sales contract and send a copy of the same to your lender. Depending on the contract, you may need to make an earnest money deposit, bringing in a third party between you and the seller.
Get your Home Inspected
There are a number of things that you or your agent can’t say about the property you are going to buy. You need professional home inspection to ensure everything is alright with your future home. The cost of repair can become a huge financial burden if you find one or more serious issues with the foundation or structure of the property when you begin to live in it.
A home inspection is, thus, necessary to ensure this doesn’t happen to you in future. It is also typically a condition written into the sales contract. Ask your agent to suggest a certified home inspector with a good track record. You may have to pay a fee upfront, but the services you receive will be of paramount significance.
Among many things, the inspector can check for signs of structural damage, things that may need fixing, the foundation, plumbing, electrical systems, the roof, walls and visible insulation. She can also look for signs of mold, asbestos and pests.
After receiving the report from your home inspector, you are left with three options if it contains some serious issues. You can issue a request for repair, which, if the seller agrees, you can verify during a final walk-through just before closing. Alternatively, you can seek an adjustment in the price of the home. If the seller doesn’t accept either of the two, you reserve the right to cancel the sales contract and walk away from the deal.