In 2020, the average house stayed on the market for just 56 days. And the market isn’t showing signs of slowing down. More buyers are looking for homes and it’s normal for sellers to get multiple offers on a single property.
That means buying a home can be tough if you’re not sure what to expect or how to navigate the market.
But tough doesn’t mean impossible. Here are a few key tips to keep in mind when you start your search so you can get into the home of your dreams.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage First
One of the most important steps to buying a home is getting financing for the purchase. This means you’ll need to find a mortgage lender to help you pay for your new house.
Though some buyers prefer to wait until they make an offer on a property, it’s rarely in your best interest. Instead, get preapproved for your mortgage before you start looking at homes.
During the preapproval process, lenders will look at your financial situation and credit history to determine whether they’re willing to lend you money in the first place. If they decide to issue you a loan, they’ll then preapprove you for a maximum loan amount.
Once you’re preapproved, you can make offers on properties knowing that you’ll receive the loan unless your financial situation changes dramatically. This can help make your offer stand out from others and gives sellers the confidence they need to work with you.
2. Set a Firm Budget
One of the biggest benefits of getting preapproved for a mortgage before you start looking for a house is that it lets you know exactly how much you can borrow. Use this information to guide your budget.
Remember, just because a lender approves you for a certain amount doesn’t mean you can actually afford a house that costs that much. Instead, think about how much money you’re comfortable spending toward your mortgage each month.
If you’re currently renting, consider whether you’re comfortable with that rent payment or if you’d like it to be smaller. If so, look for properties that will give you mortgage payments smaller than what you’re paying in rent. If you’re already in a house, think about how comfortable you are with your current mortgage and shop accordingly.
3. Figure Out What You’re Willing to Accept
When the market is hot, sellers will find buyers willing to buy their homes in as-is condition without a problem. This means many of the properties you’ll see in listings may be in various states of repair.
Some might be move-in-ready while others may need new plumbing, new roofs, new foundations, and other touches to make them fit for your family.
Before you start touring properties, think about how much work you’re willing to put into the home to bring it up to your personal standard. If you’re comfortable making significant repairs, you may be able to get a great deal by buying a foreclosed home. But if you’d rather find a move-in-ready house that doesn’t need a bunch of work, eliminate homes that need a bit of TLC from your search.
This way, you won’t waste time looking at properties that won’t work for your needs.
4. Work With a Real Estate Agent
Though it is possible to find a house and buy it on your own, it’s almost always easier when you work with a real estate agent, especially when competition for homes is high. They understand how this real estate market works and can better help you find homes that fit your needs, your budget, and your personal style.
Just make sure to choose a real estate agent you like. Schedule consultations with several agents in your area and pay attention to how they treat you during the appointment.
If they take the time to get to know you and ask detailed questions about the types of properties you’re looking for, they’re worth working with. But if they’re dismissive or already have tons of clients they’re working with, keep looking.
5. Don’t Skip Inspections
When other buyers are making offers on the same properties you’re interested in, it’s tempting to find ways to make your offer stand out. Many buyers do this by waiving their right to an inspection contingency.
If you do this, you’re agreeing to buy the house even if there’s a serious problem with the home or property.
As a general rule, try not to waive your right to an inspection when making an offer. This way, you’ll be able to back out of the purchase if your home inspector discovers a serious issue.
If you choose to skip the inspection, make sure you’re getting a good enough deal on the house to offset the cost of any possible repairs.
6. Be Ready to Move Fast
The real estate market can change overnight and, with so many buyers looking at properties, you need to be ready to make an offer quickly. If you see a house you like, schedule a showing as soon as you can.
Once you see the property, be ready to make a decision before you leave the house. If you’re in love with it, let your real estate agent know and make an offer before someone can beat you to it.
However, if you’re unsure about the house or get a bad feeling about the property, don’t mull it over. Just keep looking. You’ll find the right house eventually.
Buying a Home Takes Time
Buying a home is one of the best investments you can make in your future. But finding the right place can take time.
Be patient and follow these tips when you start your search. As long as you stick to your budget and do your due diligence on the property and the surrounding area, you’ll be able to get a great house in no time.
Once you find the perfect house, you’ll need to turn it into a place you want to call home. Check out our latest posts for more tips to make settling into your new property simple and fun.