Monday, March 31, 2008

Begin at the end?

Buying a home is a big undertaking. Whether you are purchasing your first home or your tenth, it is still a process that should be done carefully. Many buyers, especially first time home buyers, begin the process by looking for houses, either on the internet or in local papers. While looking at homes is one of the most fun parts of the home buying process, I strongly encourage buyers to begin instead at a place most go to last – the bank.

When you decide to buy a home, the first question should be “How much can we spend?” I hate to see buyers start looking at homes with no idea what their budget is. It is disappointing to buyers to start looking only to find out their budget is fifty thousand dollars less than they thought. The houses in the lower price range never look as nice as the more expensive homes they started out looking at. Talk to your bank when you start talking with your realtor. If you do not know where to go to talk about mortgages, ask your realtor for recommendations. I am always happy to help my clients find good mortgage bankers.

When you find out what your budget is, stick to it. Being house-poor is never a good situation. When people buy at the very top of their price range or slightly over the top, there is no money left for decorating or regular maintenance. The buyers may have a great home, but there is no room in the budget for dining out, vacations, entertainment or extra activities for the children. When people buy what they can afford, they can still have room in budget for unexpected expenses life may throw at them.

A good realtor should be your partner in the home buying process, not a wolf on the prowl for the biggest commission possible. When you as a buyer know your limits, a good realtor should stay within that limit. It is a winning situation for everyone when a seller gets a fair price on the property they are leaving, a buyer gets a fair price on a home they can afford and a realtor helps the transaction go smoothly.

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