5 Tips for Buying a Home


Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for makingthe process as smooth as possible.

Get your finances in order.

Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies ofyour credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems youfind. Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-approved for a loan. This willput you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the righthouse.

Find a house you can afford.

As with engagement rings, there’s a general rule of thumb whenit comes to buying a home: two-and-a-half times your annual salary. There arealso a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand howyour income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too,that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, includingproperty taxes, energy costs, etc.

Hire a professional.

While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to homelistings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level ofexpertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better offusing a professional agent than going it alone. If possible, recruit anexclusive buyer agent, who will have your interests at heart and can help youwith strategies during the bidding process.

Do your homework.

Before making a bid, do some research to determine the state ofthe market at large. Is it more favorable for sellers or buyers? Next, look atsales trends of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Look at prices forthe last few months. Come up with an asking price that’s competitive, but alsorealistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller.

Think long term.

Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll bestaying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should buy in aneighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this willhave an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes tothe house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point outpotential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.