Buying your first house can be one of the most exciting times in life, but it can also mean plenty of added stress. Whether you’re searching online for open houses or counting on a real estate agent to show you options, you need a strategy for filtering through properties that make sense for your lifestyle. Here are five ways to make choosing a home less stressful:
#1: Make a Wishlist…Before the First Showing
Before you choose which homes to view, you’ll want to sit down and make a master list of all your wants and needs, including must-haves. For example, if you absolutely need a first-floor master bedroom for accessibility purposes, simply don’t view homes without one. Many features don’t come standard in all homes, so figuring out what you want will help you communicate with your agent clearly and easily help you filter through online search options.
#2: Start the Search Early
If you need to give 60 days’ notice to vacate the apartment or house you’re currently renting, don’t count on that 60-day timeframe to find your perfect home. Finding a house that suits you best may take an average of 10 weeks. You may want to take your time to explore a variety of styles, neighborhoods, and price ranges to see what’s available.
Giving yourself only two months may put pressure on the deal, and it could even prompt you to buy something you don’t truly want.
#3: Visit as Many Properties as You Can
Even though you may have wants and needs in mind, your list might change as you view more homes and get ideas and inspiration. This can slow down your search, but on the bright side, you may have a better idea of what you really want.
The average home buyer visits at least 10 homes over 10 weeks before they find the right match, according to the latest studies from the National Association of Realtors. Visiting multiple homes may help you get a realistic idea of what’s available and what’s worth moving forward with. Start by shortlisting 5 to 6 properties, and then focus on a few top choices so you’re not limiting your options and settling for something that isn’t quite the right fit.
#4: Stay Objective during the Search
Buying a home can be an emotional decision for many, but it’s important to take an objective stance and look at a property from different perspectives.
No matter how much you love the floor plan or the view from the bedroom window, make sure you’re paying attention to red flags and all the downsides of the home. A noisy neighborhood, higher-than-average property taxes, or high HOA fees may be some negatives to be aware of when deciding if you want to pass on the home.
#5: Keep Your Lender on Standby
You may choose to stay one step ahead of the game by shopping with a pre-approval letter in hand. That way, if you find something you really like, you can move forward with an offer to purchase that very same day.
Having that pre-approval letter ready to go, or having your lender draft one up when you’re ready to make an offer, may give you some leverage when there are competing offers on the table. Sellers may also take your offer more seriously if you can furnish a signed pre-approval letter right away because it may tell them you’re likely going to get financing without any issues.
Get Through the Home Buying Process with Grace
Buying a home can be stressful, but things can go more smoothly with a little planning. By keeping the things mentioned in this article in mind, shopping for a home should be an exciting event.
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