Brenda Gaw

Buying a Home?

Buying a home is one of the largest investments people make. Buying a home for the first time can also be an overwhelming experience. We've helped hundreds of homebuyers reduce their stress and make sound real estate decisions. Here's some information that may help you...

FIRST STEP . . .

Pre-Qualification: The most important thing you need to determine is your house price range. To do this you will need to contact a mortgage lender (local bank, mortgage broker, or credit union) to Pre-Qualify for a mortgage. This will show you exactly how much money you can borrow for a home. Being pre-qualified will also give you some negotiating clout when making a purchase offer. Sellers are more willing to accept an offer from a "Pre-qualified" buyer, than from a buyer that is not pre-qualified and thus runs the risk of not being able to obtain necessary funds to complete the sale.

CONSIDERATIONS . . .

Location: Many considerations must be taken into account when determining where you should buy a home. Proximity to employment and the quality of the schools are common factors to determine if the location is suitable. Many communities now have helpful information you should review when selecting your future home location. Once you've narrowed your search to a particular area, contact an experienced Realtor to learn more about real estate in that area. In addition to getting a feel for housing in the area, I recommend you spend some time in the town you are considering. Have a meal at a local restaurant, do some shopping, or visit the library to get a feel for the community. And make sure you visit the area during the day and at night, and weekdays as well as weekends.

Condition: Condition is a significant factor to be calculated into your home purchase equation. All homes require constant care; care that will cost money. Most homebuyers take into consideration what the cost of paying the home's mortgage, taxes and utilities will be, but fail to factor in home repairs and maintenance. Some inspectors estimate that to adequately maintain an existing home in today's economy, home owners may need to spend between 1-3% of the cost of the home each year on maintenance. So, is it better to buy a home in a good condition at a higher price or a home in need of repairs at a lower price?

It depends! While I don't want to be vague with this response, the answer does depend on the homebuyer. A home with many defects that is selling for a low price may be a great value for a homebuyer who is very handy and has the time and money to make the needed improvements. On the other hand, buying a home that requires a lot of repairs may be a big mistake. First time homebuyers must consider the cost of repairs and whether or not they can afford to make them after paying their mortgage, particularly if the buyers do not consider themselves do-it-yourselfers. Maintaining your home and even improving it is a good way to protect your real estate investment. Homes in good condition sell faster and at a higher price then homes requiring many upgrades and repairs. Another consideration to calculate is how long you plan on staying in the home. Many homebuyers are only planning on being in the home for a few years and don't have the time, money or inclination to coordinate many repair projects. These buyers often find paying a premium for a home in good condition is a wise choice for them.

New Construction: Many homebuyers who are considering purchasing a newly built home wonder if a home inspection is necessary since the home is new. The answer is yes! Even though local city officials will perform code inspections, this does not guarantee the home will be constructed properly and free of defects. Many builders require home inspections on the homes they build because they understand the value of an objective check of the construction of the home is in everyone's best interest.

ONCE YOU'VE FOUND A HOME...

Contracts: Your real estate professional/advisor should explain the purchase process, make and negotiate the offer and prepare contracts. Once the contract has been accepted you will need to make arrangements for your home inspection. Most contracts allow 7-10 days for you to obtain all necessary inspections. I encourage you to attend the inspection and follow along with your inspector. Professional inspectors will be eager to address your particular concerns and explain their findings as well as demonstrate how to operate many of the systems in the home.

THE CRUCIAL STEP ...

Home Inspection: All home inspectors are NOT created equal. Choosing the right home inspection is crucial. A home inspection cannot eliminate all the risk in buying a home. For example, home inspectors can not detect hidden defects which you may eventually uncover during renovations, environmental or biohazards or defects that are concealed due to carpeting, storage or other home furnishings that are present during the home inspection. However, the first step to minimizing your risk is in fact a quality home inspection. To make certain your home inspector is qualified you need to "Inspect the Inspector". Follow this important advice and you will be able to make an informed real estate purchase.