What’s the first step of buying a home?
First and foremost, do some deep thinking about your likes, dislikes, and expectations in a new home. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and answer the following general questions:
· What do like/dislike about your current home, condominium, or apartment?
· What do you wish you could change?
· What are some elements of your ideal home and surrounding environment? Be specific!
· Do you value privacy or prefer to be in the middle of the action?
· Do you like hosting family members and friends for meals and social gatherings, or do you prefer to socialize out and about?
· Do you work from home, or would you like to someday in the future?
· Is your family expected to change in coming months, perhaps with the birth of a child, a family member leaving to go to college, etc?
Then, before looking at real estate listings, ask yourself some even tougher questions about your ideal future home, including:
· Are you someone who’s up for the challenge of renovating and making repairs, or do you prefer low-maintenance living?
· What is your ideal location? Be as specific as possible.
· What’s your budget? Is your budget flexible at all? (This answer greatly depends on the pre-approval process from a trusted lending institution as well as your down payment.)
· What’s your absolute number ONE priority in a home—location, square footage, design/aesthetic, proximity to work, or the neighborhood?
Above all, be honest with yourself!
Read through your answers and discuss them with your family members, spouse, and real estate agent. Having clear and candid answers to these challenging questions at the outset will help ensure that the home buying process goes more smoothly in the long run.