Kathy Kelley's Blog
It may be tempting, when buying a home remotely, to jump at the first great deal that fits your checklist. But, number of beds and baths aren't everything. Location matters, too. So does the school district if you have school-age children. Don't be afraid to delve deeply into a property that you're thinking of buying sight unseen, because failure to do so could lead to some serious buyer's remorse. Here's the checklist of items to cover and questions to ask before you buy a home long-distance.
Neighborhood Crime Statistics
Sites such as ADT.com and Cityrating.com can help you learn about crime rates in your potential new neighborhood. The local police department or sheriff's office is a good resource, too. All are easy to find online once you know the address of the home or county in which it's located. Find registered sex offenders living nearby and whether your new neighbor has a collar for burglary.
Costs of Getting There
If you're searching remotely for homes that are close to your new job location, ask your employer about job relocation assistance. Sometimes employers have packages in place to help with the logistics involved in relocating for work. A package might include financial assistance for multiple items, including:
Having financial help to get you and your family settled in before your first day of work at your new job is a great perk. It goes a long way toward alleviating the stress of relocation.
Homeowner's Associations can be beneficial in keeping housing values steady in your target area, but they can be costly, as well as restrictive. Is your new home governed by an HOA? If so, expect to pay monthly dues, and read up on the restrictions before you commit. If you plan to change the color or layout of your new home, you may have strict guidelines you're required to follow.
Reputation of the Local Schools
Parents of school-age children should also be concerned with the school district they're moving into. Your real estate agent should be a good resource for the best schools in the area, but it never hurts to Google. The best schools have a low student-to-teacher ratio, strong test scores compared with the rest of the state and plenty of support programs in place for students and parents.
A little homework done from the comfort of your home office can help you score the remote home purchase of your dreams. Don't be afraid to play investigator throughout your new target neighborhood.
Establishing a homebuying budget can be tough. But for those who want to secure a terrific home at an affordable price, entering the housing market with a budget in hand can make it easy to accelerate the homebuying cycle.
Now, let's take a look at three questions to consider about a homebuying budget.
1. How much money have I saved for a home?
Examine your finances and see how much money is readily available for a home purchase.
Remember, the more money that is at your disposal, the more likely it becomes that you'll be able to secure your dream residence in no time at all.
Although savings are important, it is essential to note that those who have little to no money saved still have plenty of time to get ready for the homebuying journey. And if you start saving a little bit each day, you can move closer to accomplishing your homeownership dreams.
2. Do I need to get a home loan?
In most instances, a homebuyer will need to obtain a home loan so he or she can purchase a residence. Luckily, many lenders are available to help you discover a home loan that matches or surpasses your expectations.
Meet with a variety of lenders in your area – you'll be glad you did. Each lender can provide insights into assorted home loan options, explain how each home loan works and respond to your home loan concerns and questions.
Also, it often helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you have a mortgage available when you enter the real estate market, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a residence, thereby reducing or eliminating the temptation to overspend on a house.
3. How will my monthly expenses change after I buy a house?
Owning a home is different from renting an apartment. As such, you'll want to account for all potential expenses as you create a homebuying budget.
For example, a homeowner will be responsible for any home cable, internet and phone bills. This property owner also will need to consider any home maintenance costs like those associated with mowing the lawn in summer or removing snow from the driveway in winter.
Crafting a homebuying budget that accounts for your personal finances can be tricky. If you need additional support along the way, lenders may be able to provide expert tips to ensure you can acquire a wonderful house without exceeding your financial limitations.
Lastly, don't forget to reach out to a real estate agent for help along the homebuying journey. A real estate agent is a housing market professional who will go above and beyond the call of duty to assist you in any way possible. From setting up home showings to negotiating with home sellers on your behalf, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to secure a superior home at a budget-friendly price.
Consider the aforementioned homebuying budget questions, and you can speed up the homebuying process.
When you view a home for the first time and speak to the agent hosting an open house or showing the home, you're talking to someone working for the seller -- not for you. Anything you share could be passed on to the seller -- and used to leverage a better offer from you if you do end up wanting the home. The best way to avoid this scenario is to work with a buyer's agent. This is a real estate agent that works for you and helps you get the best possible deal on a home.
A buyer’s agent represents you, the prospective buyer; this ensures that the agent you work with has your best interests in mind and that they do not have a stake in showing you one particular property over another. Just calling the name on a “for sale” sign isn’t enough if you want someone who can truly represent you and your needs – and successfully negotiate on your behalf. Agents who are working for a seller need to sell the home, and are not out to get you the best possible deal.
A buyers agent will show you a variety of properties and help you determine which one meets your needs best. Once you find a property that you love, your agent will help you get the best possible deal. You’ll sign a contract with this agent and they will receive a commission from the seller when you do buy a home. You should make sure that any contract you sign is a buyer’s agent agreement – and that the agent does not also represent the seller of a home. Any real estate agent you are considering working should reveal any conflict of interest before you sign a contract.
Benefits of Working with a Buyer’s Agent
When you work with a buyer’s agent you have someone on your side who can help you through the negotiation process. They will also be aware of market conditions, of terms that would be favorable to you and when you’re ready, help you make an offer. The agent you choose will have a big impact on your success and how much you enjoy the process.
Finding the Right Buyer’s Agent for your Home Search
Any agent you are considering should be a dedicated buyer’s agent. An Accredited Buyer Representative is someone who has been certified in this role. You should ask any agent who you are considering if they also list homes – and determine if there is a conflict of interest.
Choosing an agent who understands your needs and works with buyers like you can also help you have a successful experience. Some agents work mostly with luxury homes and well-established buyers, while others are dedicated to helping first-time buyers find a home.
Your buyer’s agent should be familiar with the areas you are most interested in. If they are not in the immediate area, they may not be able to provide you with the assistance you need to make a great deal
Choose the Right Agent from the Start
Since a buyer’s agent has such an impact on your success and the process, it is important to choose the right person from the start. Interview a few agents to see who you feel comfortable with and who meets your needs best. This is the person that will help you find your next home, so you should be confident in their abilities and able to work with them for a prolonged period of time.
Regardless of when or where you search for a house, a home buying checklist is essential. With this checklist in hand, you can quickly and effortlessly discover a residence that suits you perfectly.
Now, let's take a look at three factors to incorporate into your home buying checklist.
1. Your Home Buying Timeline
Account for how much time is available to find and purchase a house. That way, you can boost the likelihood of getting the most out of the time and resources at your disposal.
As you create a home buying checklist, consider how much time you have before you need to relocate from your current address. Then, you can see how much time you have to pursue your dream home and evaluate the steps you will need to take to make that process run smoothly.
2. Your Home Must-Haves and Wants
Consider what you absolutely require from your new home. For instance, if you need a house that is close to your office in the city, you should check out homes in or near the city itself. Or, if you require a home that offers ample space for you and your children, you should hone your search to residences that have two or more bedrooms.
Of course, it helps to create a list of home wants and needs when you develop a house buying checklist. With the ability to evaluate your home needs at any time, you will be better equipped when deciding if a particular house is right for you.
3. Your Home Buying Budget
You know you want to purchase a house, but your current financial situation may be limited. Fortunately, if you prepare a home buying budget, you will know how much you can spend on a residence and map out your search accordingly.
Oftentimes, it helps to meet with credit unions or banks before you begin a home search. Credit unions and banks can teach you about different types of mortgages and how they work. Plus, these financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.
For those who want to streamline the home buying journey, it's a good idea to hire a real estate agent, too. A real estate agent can help you craft a home buying checklist, as well as provide tips and guidance as you search for your ideal house.
A real estate agent understands what it takes to find a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. First, a real estate agent will help a buyer evaluate the local real estate sector and narrow their home search. A real estate agent will also help a buyer discover a home that matches their expectations. Finally, a real estate agent will work with a buyer to put together a competitive offer to purchase this residence.
Craft a home buying checklist today – you will be happy you did. Once you have a home buying checklist, you can more seamlessly navigate the house buying journey.
Enjoying a seamless home buying journey may seem virtually impossible, particularly for a first-time property buyer. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to boost the likelihood of quickly and easily finding your dream house, such as:
1. Hone Your Home Search
Consider where you want to reside and the features you want to find in your ideal residence. That way, you can hone your house search accordingly.
As you review potential home destinations, consider your short- and long-term goals. For instance, if you want to work in a big city, you may want to search for houses in or near a city that matches your expectations. Or, if you intend to start a family soon, you may want to pursue homes near parks and other family-friendly attractions.
Furthermore, make a list of home features you want to discover in your dream house. With this list in hand, you can focus on finding a home that you can enjoy for years to come.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
A mortgage usually is a must-have for a homebuyer. If you enter the real estate market with a mortgage in hand, you could speed up your house search.
Meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. This will allow you to learn about myriad mortgage options.
In addition, don't hesitate to ask mortgage questions. A mortgage sometimes is confusing, and as such, it helps to get plenty of information about a mortgage before you start a house search. If you consult with mortgage specialists at banks and credit unions, you can gain the insights you need to make an informed mortgage selection.
3. Establish Realistic Expectations
Although you likely want to find your dream residence as quickly as possible, it is important to remember that the home buying journey often has ebbs and flows. If you establish realistic home buying expectations, you can avoid potential disappointments as you search for your ideal residence.
Sometimes, it helps to consider the worst-case home buying scenarios. If you plan ahead for these situations, you can determine the steps you will need to take to avoid them altogether.
You may want to collaborate with family members and friends during your home search as well. With loved ones at your side, you can receive plenty of support and guidance as you conduct a home search. Plus, your loved ones can help you keep things in perspective, even if the home buying journey becomes stressful.
When it comes to finding and buying a home, you may want to employ a real estate agent, too. A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the home buying journey. They will learn about you and your home buying goals, and help you plan properly. Thus, a real estate agent can provide you with the support you need to enjoy a seamless home buying journey.
Ready to conduct a successful home search? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can navigate the home buying journey like a pro and quickly discover your dream home.