Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.
Get your finances in order.
Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Then find a good Whatcom County local lender and get pre-approved for a loan. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house.
I know several excellent local loan officers I can refer you to. Some specialize in first time home buyer zero down loans, some specialize in rehab (fixer) loans…you let me know your search I can refer you to a loan officer (or 2 or 3).
Find a house you can afford.
As with engagement rings, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home: two-and-a-half to three times your annual salary for a loan amount. There are also a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, HOA dues, etc.
Hire a professional.
While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better off using a professional agent than going it alone.
Do your homework.
Before making a bid, do some research to determine the state of the market at large. Is it more favorable for sellers or buyers? Next, look at sales trends of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Look at prices for the last few months. Come up with an asking price that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller, or simply losing out on a good opportunity.
Currently most of Bellingham is a sellers market, but there is price ranges in different neighborhoods and cities around Whatcom County where the market is different. Knowing the market in your specific area and price range is key.
Think long term.
Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should consider buying in a neighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.
Every home and every price range requires some trade-off usually. What can you live without? What is most important to you? Determining these things ahead of time can help you make a smart decision when buying. Buying a home can be a very emotional experience, and trying to stay logical about what’s important to you in your search is the key.
We have a great list of excellent inspectors, contractors, and more we can refer you to during the home buying process. Contact me today if you’d like to get the ball rolling!