It’s officially 2012 so let me start by wishing you a happy new year. In early January, many of us are planning and setting goals for everything we want to do and achieve in the year to come. While many people think of spring as the primetime home buying season, the winter months often offer an even greater selection, and the opportunity to settle into the new home before warmer months arrive. If buying a house is on your “to do” list this year, now is also the time to begin preparing.
I remember when I bought my home. There were so many things to get in order– it was confusing to decide where to begin! So, even if you plan to buy in the spring, January is a good time to get ready. Here are some tips to help you get on track to reach your 2012 home buying resolution:
- Select a qualified and trusted real estate agent: At Coldwell Banker, we have a network of knowledgeable, trustworthy agents. Agents understand the local market and can help you find all the information and resources you need to get started. Researching on your own is important, and using free online tools is a great way to start, but meeting with an agent will ensure you don’t miss any important steps along the way. In fact, the next three tips were sourced from the great advice of our agents.
- Create your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” list: Easier said than done, right? But it’s next to impossible to find a first home with everything. You’ll need to think about your lifestyle needs and prioritize the non-negotiable home accommodations, such as a bedroom for each family member, over items you may want, but not need, such as a large master suite. Everyone’s list is different, but knowing your “must-haves” in advance will help you stay focused.
- Determine your budget: Be realistic about what is affordable. An agent can help you find comparable home prices and hone in on approximately how much the payments will be. You should also plan to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Doing this prior to house hunting will let you know how much money you qualify for, and how much you can afford. You’ll also be able to figure out which mortgage type is best for you.
- Identify the perfect “location, location, location”: Everyone has heard this phrase before, and while the surrounding neighborhood and home itself may improve over time, the physical location will remain the same. Determine in advance how close you would like to live to work, schools or extended family. A short commute to work, proximity to family or having easy access to highways and mass transit will often be items for your “must-haves” list.
Hope your 2012 is off to a good start. If you’re starting your home search in 2012, we’d love to hear what you’re doing to get the home search process started.