Buying a house can be an exciting and challenging experience. It’s a major purchase that usually involves a few different parties with competing priorities: the seller, the real estate agents, and the buyer. When you’re in the market for a house, there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind that will help you smoothly navigate the transaction and end up with the result that you desire: a new house that’s right for you.
Be mindful of your credit
Knowing your credit score—and understanding how things like your debt-to-income ratio can affect it—can be extremely helpful when you’re buying a home. Do some research on your own financial fitness and be aware of how much you can borrow. You should also know how other big purchases, like furniture, etc., can affect your score, as Natalie Schwab mentions in this Redfin blog.
Find a lender and a realtor you can work with
Do your homework when you’re looking for a lender and a realtor. It’s important to establish partnerships with people and organizations that you feel confident in and can trust. Finding a good lender and realtor is one of the most important steps a buyer can take. The home-buying process can be stressful, and you want to be able to depend on the people you’re working with.
Act quickly when you find a house you like
The modern real estate market moves fast, and making an offer on a home shortly after it’s listed can help you save money and get into a house quickly. You should be prepared to make offers as soon as you start looking.
Do some research on the neighborhood
Neighborhoods can be very different at different times of day, and it’s always a good idea to visit a prospective neighborhood in the evening, on the weekend, and during the day, so you can get a better idea of what it will be like. It’s also recommended that buyers take an evening walk or a nighttime drive through a prospective neighborhood to get a feel for how it really is at different times of the day.
Keep your expectations in check
As Taylor Kelly notes in this blog, sometimes first-time home buyers can let their expectations get away from them, thinking that they need to find a home that’s perfect, inside and out, before they make an offer. The reality is that almost any house you purchase will need some work and maintenance, so it’s best to have a keen grasp on what you really need and what you can afford.
Don’t spend time looking at every house in your area
Many buyers are tempted to visit and check out every house that comes on the market within an hour’s drive of where they live. As Julie Ryan Evans notes in her article on Realtor.com, that’s not a good use of a buyer’s time—it’s better to trust your real estate agent to screen homes for you and let you know which ones might be a good fit for your needs.