Buying a home is an exciting journey that can quickly turn into a nightmare—especially with the current market’s high prices and mortgage rates. However, this is avoidable as long as you put some solid reason (and not just emotions) into the journey. There are certain ways that homebuyers can structure and streamline the process to end up with the home they have always hoped for—without losing their sanity or financial stability along the way.
Follow these six steps to find and buy a great home:
Evaluate Your Current and Future Housing Needs
The “best home” is a relative concept. What is ideal for one homeowner may not be for another one. Therefore, the first step is to think through your current and future needs for housing.
Factors to consider include: Are you married or do you plan to be? Do you have kids or do you plan to start a family soon? Are your children living at home but leaving for college in the near future? Are you retiring any time soon?
The answers to these questions will help you evaluate your home needs now and in the short to medium term. Keep in mind that the median homeownership duration in the US housing market is 13.2 years, which means you can expect to spend a bit more than a decade in the home that you plan to buy now on average.
So focus on what type of property (single family home, townhouse, apartment, condo, etc.), home size, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms are ideal for you and your family in the next decade or so. This will help you define the best home for you specifically.
Create a Realistic Budget
Something that many homebuyers forget is that the best home is a home that you can afford. That’s why it’s crucial to analyze your finances and determine how much you can afford to spend on a house. This estimate should include both the down payment and monthly mortgage payments. Do not forget to include closing costs, fixes and repairs, property taxes, home insurance, furniture, maintenance, and utilities as well as some other unexpected expenses along the road to homeownership.
When combined, these costs can add up and significantly impact your ability to pay for your home. For example, closing costs range between 3% and 6% of the loan amount, for an average of nearly $7,000 in the US market. Property tax rates range between 0.28% (Hawaii) and 2.49% (New Jersey) of the home value depending on your state, with an average rate of 1.1%. In addition, according to Bankrate, the national average home insurance is $1,383 per year. At the same time, the value of property repairs and furnishing can be anything from a few hundred dollars to many thousands depending on the state of the house and your preferences.
Failing to set up a home budget and stick to it is the quickest recipe for a nightmare for first-time homebuyers. First of all, if you go above your price range when looking at real estate listings, you risk falling in love with a home you can’t afford and not liking other perfectly fine homes within your budget. Second, if you actually manage to buy a home above your affordable range, you risk ending up in a foreclosure once you are unable to cover the mortgage payments.
Therefore, we simply can not overstate the importance of working out a budget and focusing on it when house hunting.
Learn About the Local Housing Market
The next step in the homeowner’s journey to finding the best home is gaining some knowledge of the local real estate market. Buying a home doesn’t require you to obtain real estate education or become an expert, but it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of things like median property prices, dominant property types, most popular amenities, and the best and worst neighborhoods.
All of this information will help you understand how much home you can afford in your market and what property types you can expect to face. In other words, this will help you set up realistic expectations for your best home and work toward achieving them.
While there are a great deal of real estate data sources available both online and offline, it’s hard to distinguish the good ones from the not-so-good ones. If you would like to get access to high-quality, up-to-date, and easily digestible information about any US housing market, make sure to check out Landslo’s digital real estate assistant. We can provide you with current market insights, as well as tailored guidance on home buying via AI technology. Most importantly, all of this information is absolutely free!
Consider Your Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves
Once you are clear on your needs, budget, and the local market, the next step is to sketch a characterization of this perfect home for you and your family. Sit down and make a list of the features that your ideal house will have. Make sure to distinguish between features that are a must-have and those that are nice to have.
It’s important to take a rational approach to this step and try to isolate your emotions as much as possible. Focus on the property characteristics that are crucial for your housing needs and achievable in the local market. Those are considered the must-haves. Next, consider features that you would really like to have in your future home but you and your family can forgo without any major discomfort. These are the nice-to-haves.
As soon as you are done with this step, you are ready to get into the actual home shopping process.
Get Access to the Best Home Listings in the Area
Now that you have your ideal home all sketched out and you know that it’s feasible in the area, it’s time to start looking at active listings. Depending on your current location and time availability, you can deploy a few different strategies. On the more traditional side, you can check out the real estate sections of local newspapers and online publications, talk to your network, and drive around to look for “For Sale” signs. You can also employ real estate technology-enabled solutions to get access to online marketplaces and house hunting apps.
If you’re wondering how to optimize the process of searching for available homes in your market that match your expectations, consider using Landslo. Our AI digital assistant can send you tailored real estate listings based on your specific requirements and preferences—all at zero cost to you!
Pair Up with a Top Agent in the Market
The final step in buying the best home for you and your family is to find a real estate agent who can help you close the deal. When choosing an agent to hire, it’s important to look for someone with an impeccable reputation in the local market whom you also click with. After all, there is a human element that you simply cannot ignore in real estate. A good agent that you feel comfortable with can help you find and buy the perfect home. On the other hand, an agent that isn’t the right match may make the process unnecessarily complicated and unpleasant.
This part of the homebuying process is one more thing that Landslo can help with. Our digital assistant works hard to match you with the right real estate agent based on your personal preferences and expectations. Needless to say, all agents we work with are vetted and reputable local experts.
To get started with our friendly and helpful digital assistant, sign up for free here.
Make Finding the Best Home a Dream Come True
Finding the best home for you and your family is not necessarily easy, but it is definitely worth it. After all, that’s where you will spend a significant portion of the next decade (or maybe much more). Therefore, make sure to mix the right amounts of rationality and emotions into the process to optimize your results. Following these six steps can help make things more manageable and less stressful, all without sacrificing your dream home requirements.