A version of this post originally appeared on Robin Wilson Home.
Buying a new home is a significant milestone for so many people, but it is also fraught with peril if you do not make the right decisions prior to making an offer and signing on the dotted line. A few years ago, before the recession, some people looked at homes solely as investments, with a goal of living in a starter, then a move-up, home. Today it is more important to select your home as a space you want to live, and not solely as a space that will be a short-term solution.
Before signing a mortgage make sure you’ve done the following five steps:
- Speak to a knowledgable local real estate agent who can provide you with information about schools and who can show you different neighborhoods.
- Do your own research by assessing the neighborhood at different times of day. Speak to the local precinct captain about area crime and traffic patterns, and understand hidden costs such as maintenance, utility bills, and taxes.
- Make an offer you can afford and make sure your financing is in place in advance. Be prepared to negotiate with sellers if you do not assume that the listing price is required. Don’t let your agent telling you that there are six other offers to make you feel pressured.
- Buy what you need, not what you want. Prepare a list in advance so that you know if you are in the want or need category.
- Insist on a written, professional inspection by a person who is not affiliated with the seller or real estate agent. Contact the American Society of Home Inspectors if you need a referral.
Best of luck!