The internet has opened up a whole new world when it comes to searching for homes for sale. You’re no longer dependent on one realtor for all your home-buying needs. While a great real estate agent will still be your best ally as you move forward, there’s a lot you can do on your own before hiring one. Here’s a crash course in what research to do ahead of time.
The main things to determine are financing, location, and type of property. Before immediately deciding on any of these three items, take a step back and do some research first before making up your mind. You’re theoretically going to be living in your new property for a number of years, so why not take a week or two to get your priorities in order?
If you haven’t set a budget, now’s the time to be honest with yourself. Go online and use one of the many excellent mortgage calculators to determine a realistic budget. If you’re only paying $700 a month for rent currently, even though your income may qualify for a $1400 mortgage payment, think carefully before committing to that kind of increase in monthly overhead. If you’re determined to get the most house you qualify for however, at least use the old trick of setting aside the amount of money you’ll be paying for a mortgage for at least three months to see if you can live with it. You have nothing to lose, and at the end of three months, you’ll have a bit more of a down payment. More importantly, you’ll have a much better idea of the monthly payment you’re comfortable committing to.
So now that you have a budget in mind, call your bank and make an appointment to meet with a mortgage counselor. If you can get pre-approved, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes time to make an offer on a property.
Before you call your broker, now do a little web-surfing to see what homes for sale exist in the area you’re considering. If you don’t see exactly what you like, broaden your search to include nearby areas or even different types of properties. Don’t limit your search too narrowly at first, check out at least three or four different areas of the city you’re interested in.
In the leisure of your own house, you can browse through listings with pictures, descriptions, even maps of the areas. Most online listings nowadays have a wealth of information about the neighborhood, so check out things like schools, public transportation, restaurants, and other living amenities.
Type of Property
It’s almost time to pick up the phone, but not just yet. Just because you thought you wanted a townhouse doesn’t mean you should rule out condos, or even single-family homes. Just like shoe-shopping, why not try on a bunch of random ones before committing? Look at every type of homes for sale listing so you can see how far your money goes in the area you’ve chosen. Honestly imagine yourself living in each place. Now, once you’ve narrowed it down to a price range, location, and type of property, you can call your realtor and give them your shopping list.