Whether you're a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, shopping for a new home can feel daunting. And its no surprise that buyers often say finding the right property was the most difficult and stressful step in their home-buying process.
Of course if you think about it, that makes perfect sense. Buying a home is a major commitment of both time and money. And the result of that effort, the home purchase itself, can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life as well as your future financial security. So the stakes are high.
Follow these five steps to assess and determine your priorities, streamline your search, and choose your next home with confidence.
The first step to finding your ideal home is determining WHY you want to move. Do you need more space? Access to better schools? Less maintenance? Or are you tired of throwing money away on rent when you could be building equity? Pinpointing the reasons why you want to move can help you assess your priorties for your home search.
Don't forget to think about how your circumstances might change over the next few years. Do you expect to switch jobs? Have more children? Get a pet? A good rule of thumb is to choose a house that will meet your family's needs for at least the next five to seven years. Be sure to set your goals accordingly.
Many financial professionals recommend following the "32/40 Rule" to determine how much you can afford to spend on a home. The rule states that you should spend no more than 32% of your gross monthly income on housing expenses (e.g. mortgage, taxes, insurance) and a maximum of 40% of your income on your total debt (i.e., housing expenses PLUS other debt, like credit cards, car payments, student loans, etc.)
Of course, 32/40 rule only provides a rough guideline. Getting pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage is a more accurate way to determine your maximum potential budget.
When it comes to real estate, WHERE you choose to buy is just as important as WHAT you choose to buy. Do you prefer a rural, urban, or suburban setting? How long of a commute are you willing to make? Which neighbourhoods feed into your favourite schools? These decisions will impact your day to day life while you live in the home. Another important factor to consider is how the area is likely to appreciate over time. Look for communities that are well maintained with access to good schools, desired retail establishments, and with strong, stable employment opportunities.
Start with the basics, like your ideal number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage. Do you prefer tile, hardwood, broadloom, laminate, or cork flooring? Then move to some of the more specific wants and desires. Would you like a swimming pool? A hot tub? Keep in mind that you may not find a home with all your "wants", or even all your "needs". Or if you happen to find everything you think you are looking for, it may be outside of your budget. The reality is, there is no perfect house or property, and we all need to make a few compromises when it comes to buying a family home. If you're faced with a tough choice about how or what to compromise on, return to STEP 1. What are your ultimate goals, and does the home meet them?
A real estate sales representative or broker can remove much of the stress and uncertainty from the home search process. From setting goals to navigating practical impediments to selecting a neighbourhood, our experience and expert advice can be an invaluable asset to you every step of the way. And while it would easy to assume that this VIP service comes at a high price, the truth is we can represent you throughout the home-buying process at NO COST to you. It's just the way the system works. The home seller, via the listing brokerage, pays the buyer representative's fee from the proceeds of the sale at closing. So you can benefit from our time and professional experience without paying a dime. It's no wonder that virtually all buyers continue to utilize professional real estate services when searching for, finding, and negotiatiing the purchase of home. It's the best way to ensure a favourable outcome when navigating the most important single financial transaction in your life.
Although we've listed it as STEP 5, it's never too early (or too late) to contact a real estate professional about buying a home. Whether you plan to buy today, next month, or next year, there are important steps that we can assist you with in preparation for your purchase. Call us today at 1-800-258-2059 to schedule a free no-obligation consultation.