1. Get to know a Realtor who will act exclusively as your Buyers’ Agent. A good Buyers Agent will advise you on:
    • the merits of buying a new versus an existing home
    • various builder’s strengths and weaknesses
    • how certain home upgrades affect the future home value
    • the most economical way to finance your home

    and, help you through the many steps to closing without undue stress. An experienced Buyers Agent will save you time, money and grief.

  2. Don’t assume your credit is spotless. Ask your lender to pull your credit report. It may contain errors or old unpaid debts you’ve forgotten. Get errors and omissions fixed now.
  3. Shop for a lender before you shop for a home. The way to know how much home you can afford is to get pre-qualified (preferably pre-approved). Pre-approval is powerful leverage during price negotiation. Ask to “lock-in” an interest rate without a charge. Then, if rates go down, you get the lower rate; if they go up, you keep the “locked” rate.
  4. Between pre-qualification and closing, consult your lender before any major purchase. Credit purchases affect your qualification for a mortgage, even after you’ve been approved.
  5. Be careful from whom you take advice. Don’t count on Uncle Bob who was a Realtor once or Aunt Mary who bought a home years ago. New home builder’s salesmen and Realtors representing Sellers won’t necessarily tell you all you need to know. A Buyer’s Agent is required by law to tell you everything he or she knows that could affect the value of the home.
  6. If you think you need a lawyer, maybe you do! Many home purchases occur without incident without a lawyer. But, if you want an attorney, don’t be talked out of it.
  7. Seller’s don’t always tell the truth. On resale homes, always get a Home Inspection by a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) to uncover any faults in the home. Then, the Seller, not you, pays to correct any problems.
  8. Be realistic about appreciation in your home’s value. They don’t go up the way they used to. Market value increases of 3-5% per year are more likely now.
  9. Buy a home you can really afford. There sure are tax advantages to owning a home. But, there are also expenses (decorating, lawn care, trash pickup) that you may forget in all the excitement. “Buy a bit less, rather than a bit more than you can afford,” is good advice.
  10. Decide what you want and stick with it. New home salespeople will sell you upgrades which add little if any, value to your home when you sell it. Realtors representing Sellers will let you pay too much. Before making an offer on an existing home, have your Buyers Agent do an in-depth “Comparative Market Analysis” to be sure you offer the lowest reasonable amount.