Finding the right home for your family is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make, and if you're taking on a mortgage loan to get that home, picking the right property is even more crucial. Below are seven steps to ensure you stay focused and on budget.
Establish your goal: Searching for your dream house? Upgrading your current digs or looking to downsize? Whatever the goal is behind your impending home purchase, be sure you understand it clearly before beginning your house hunt. This will eliminate wasted time spent viewing homes that don't meet your priority.
Create a wish list: Once your primary objective is in place, it's time to list all of the additional features and amenities you expect from the property you eventually buy. Brainstorming must-haves and also-nice-to-haves helps to further narrow down your search field.
Hire a real estate agent: No one understands the intricacies of a local housing market like a real estate agent with years of experience. Save yourself time and headache. Hire a highly-rated agent to see you through the process.
Get preapproved: Knowing exactly how much you can afford to spend ahead of time helps the house hunting process goes smoother, not to mention, eliminates the disappointment of learning you don't have enough saved for the home you've had your eye on all this time. Getting preapproved for a mortgage will set your budget straight off.
Ask questions and take notes: Don't hold back if you have questions or concerns. Ensure you have no lingering questions about the property, mortgage financing terms or anything else that could lead to regret down the line. And don't forget to write down important notes as you view houses — things that seem important in the moment are easily forgotten after five open houses.
Do some recon work: Spend time around the house you have your eye on, and at different times of the day. Does it get noisy? Is the traffic a nightmare? What are the neighbors up to? The worst thing would be to lock into your mortgage, only to find that while you love your house, you hate the neighborhood.
Look out for hidden expenses: Finally, it's important to investigate more than just the house itself to find out if there are potential money traps within. For example, find out when the home's appliances, water heater, roof, etc., were last replaced so that you aren't surprised with a big expense shortly after moving in.