Forget losing weight, quitting smoking, or giving up your reality TV habit. If you’re serious about buying a home in 2013, that’s what your New Year’s resolutions have got to focus on! If you want to wind up with the home of your dreams, you’ve got to set – and stick to – these 4 resolutions:
1. Get serious with your realtor
Lots of buyers (especially first-timers) view their realtor as a miracle worker or a mind reader. Sure, your realtor may be one heck of an expert, but he’s not that good! If you want the best results, you’ve got to tell him what you want! So, if you’re looking for a home with a specific feature (like, for example, a pool), be sure to let your realtor know. Or, if there’s something that’s just non-negotiable (like, for example, if you positively can’t stand homes with red brick exteriors), tell your realtor that, too. That way, it will be easier for your realtor to find potential homes that you really like. After all, the more serious you are about your likes and dislikes, the sooner you’ll be able to find your dream home. If you try to be polite for your realtor’s sake – or assume that your realtor “just knows” what you’re looking for – you’re going to wind up wasting an awful lot of time!
2. Promise to crunch the numbers on every house you like
It’s one thing to assume that you can afford a particular house after you fall in love with it during a showing. It’s another to actually grab a pencil and a calculator and crunch all of the numbers. Once the “newness” of the home wears off, how will you make the payments? Will you break into a sweat every time you have to write a check to the homeowners’ association? What about the utilities? Will the extra bedrooms put your electric bill beyond your budget? If you think that asking yourself these questions makes you “poor”, think again. Asking yourself these questions makes you responsible! Better to find out now that you can’t afford the home than a few months or years down the road when you’re in foreclosure.
3. Look beyond the “pretty” stuff
Every single home you tour is going to be on its “best behavior” – you know, immaculately clean, a perfectly manicured lawn, and a kitchen that looks like it belongs in a magazine. Promise yourself that you’re going to look beyond all of that and get a real sense of the home, though. For example, how much storage space is there? Does the home seem drafty? Does it sit next to a busy street? What about the neighborhood? Does it look like a place where you’d feel comfortable letting your kids play? Take a look at the appliances. Do they look like they need to be replaced anytime soon? What about the roof? Is it in good shape? These are the things that are really going to affect the time you spend in the home, so take a good look! After all, those “pretty” things will only get you so far!
4. Be assertive in the negotiations – but not too pushy
The housing market is starting to make some gains, but in most places, it is still most definitely a buyer’s market. So, take that into consideration when it comes time to make an offer. However, don’t take it too far. Even if your local market is down in the dumps, this is not the time to try and take advantage of the seller. If you do, they’re just going to say no – and you’ll have to bid farewell to that house you fell in love with!
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