At True Homes, we often meet homebuyers who are excited about looking at new homes but are also overwhelmed by the pressure to make the “right” decision. The home search can be daunting! Here are some basic homebuying tips to help.
Homebuyer Tip #1: Set your budget!
The surefire way to set a price range for your new home search is a mortgage preapproval. A lender will consider income and monthly debt obligations to determine your debt-to-income ratio (DTIR). Loan programs typically want your DTIR to fall below 40%, including your housing payment, and a lender will tell you how high you can go.
But getting preapproval is useful for far more than setting an amount. The lender will also check your credit, look at your assets and help you identify any potential hurdles to homeownership. This can minimize the time from offer to closing. Plus, preapproval gives you a better standing with the seller, who will be confident you can close the deal.
Once you’re pre-approved for a price range, it helps to start looking below your maximum price to give you room to negotiate later.
Homebuyer Tip #2: Narrow Your Search
Many people start their home searches with a simple online query. Typing in “homes for sale” and the name of an area can yield many results that don’t interest you, wasting time.
Before going down that road, make a list of things of “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” for your new home. This will help you skip over the listings that don’t meet your criteria.
At True Homes, we’ve seen the value of creating a chart of what you’re looking for in a home. As you tour homes, either online or in person, check off the conditions each meets. You’ll see at a glance which homes get the most marks and deserve a closer look.
Homebuyer Tip #3: Don’t Judge a Home by Its Photos
While online searches are useful, it’s essential to understand that photos can be deceiving. If you find a home that gets a lot of checkmarks but doesn’t present well in the online photos, it may be worth visiting in real life.
Pictures are often staged and can be deceiving. On the other hand, don’t get attached to a home just because of the gorgeous photos. Use your chart to make a practical home assessment against your needs and wishes. If it gets the marks, go for a visit to see for yourself.
Homebuyer Tip #4: Be Realistic About What You Will Change
As you’re touring homes, be open to things you can change and honest about what it will take to make those changes.
Paint colors are typically easy to switch up, and they can make a dramatic difference in a home. Think twice about when you want to paint a soaring two-story foyer or great room. Will you have the ability (including the extension ladder and good balance) to do that yourself, or will you need to hire someone?
Flooring is another “easy” change but consider both the expense and the effort to make it happen. Will you delay moving in so you can get new flooring right away? Will you have to move furniture to install it down the road?
When you consider the extra expenses changes will require, add them to the price of the home. They may not be part of your monthly payment, but they contribute to the home’s cost.
Many of our True Homes buyers love that they will get the paint colors and designs they want from the first day they move in, with no extra time or expense required.
Homebuyer Tip #5: Note Problems
As you’re touring each home and checking off the items on your chart to show the positive things it has from your wish/needs list, look for potential problems, too.
Check ceilings and skylights for hints of water damage. Look for cracks around windows or doors to indicate foundation shifts. Some homebuying tips recommend turning light switches on and off to check for electrical issues, testing the water faucets, and trying out the garage door.
Remember, there’s no “right” answer to the home or neighborhood that will work best for you, but all of us at True Homes hope these homebuying tips will help you decide on a home you’ll be happy with for many years to come.
And honestly, we hope you decide that home is one we build just for you. Visit us at www.truehomesusa.com to see how we work with our buyers to create the homes they love, no changes required.