Are you getting ready to take the plunge into home ownership? It’s an exciting time with a lot to prepare for. Whether you’re in the thick of the homebuying process or just starting to look at listings, here are some tips for leveling up your search.
Know what you want
Knowing exactly what you’re looking for at the start of the homebuying process can save you a lot of time. That means figuring out all your must-have and nice-to-have features. Are you looking for a certain number of bedrooms? Do you need a backyard for your pup? Do you want more than one full bath? Make sure to inventory all the details so you can reference your list when it comes time to search.
Understand your price point
Before you can start looking for your next home, it’s also important to figure out what kind of budget you’re working with. This will help narrow down your options and give you an idea of the types of properties that may be within reach. Don’t forget to factor in the additional costs associated with home ownership, such as maintenance, taxes, and insurance.
Find a great real estate agent
Working with a knowledgeable, experienced real estate agent can be invaluable when finding the right home. A great agent will understand your wants and needs and guide you through the entire process from start to finish. They’ll also have access to listings that may not yet be available on public websites, giving you even more options. If you’re not sure where to start, ask friends and family for recommendations and check realtors’ websites.
Zero in on location
Narrowing your list down to one or two desired neighborhoods can help organize your search and save you time. Research different areas you may want to live in. Consider things like commute times, proximity to amenities, and school districts. If you’re not very familiar with some of the neighborhoods you’re considering, spend some time there to get a better feel for what they’re like.
Figure out your financials ahead of time
Before you start seriously shopping for homes, it’s important to review your finances and ensure everything is in order. That can mean getting your documents in order, getting pre-approved for a mortgage, and having an emergency fund set aside in case of unexpected costs or repairs. Remember to factor in closing costs and property taxes. Keep in mind that the added responsibility of a mortgage may impact your need for life insurance. Many first-time homebuyers get a term life insurance policy that’s roughly equal to the mortgage duration to ensure their heirs can continue paying the mortgage even if the original homeowner passes away unexpectedly.