Summer is a great time to something exciting! For some it’s buying a new car, taking a vacation to some place exotic and for others its the excitement of buying a new home. If buying a new home is at the top of your summer to-do list, my guess is that you want to be settled in your new home before the school year begins. Before you begin your search, here are 10 tips for buying a home this summer. Happy summer and happy home shopping.
Tip 1: Choose the right agent
When choosing an agent, you want to work with a real estate professional who is a full-time agent. Full-time agents are not doing real estate on the side to make a few extra bucks, instead their profession is their business and they treat it as such. Find out from your friends who they used in the past – a referral is one of the best way to find a good agent, but be sure that your personalities match each other. Ask the agent for referrals from past clients and choose an agent from a reputable real estate company.
Tip 2: Choose the location first
Before you choose the house, decide on a location that works best for your family. How far are you willing to commute to work? What sacrifices if any are you willing to make on schools for your kids? Are you close to shopping, parks etc.? Some buyers get excited about the house itself and ignore the things that will make them happy in the long run.
Tip 3: Tour the home virtually
Technology and the internet has changed the way buyers shop for homes. Buyers can now tour homes from their mobile device with new 3D software. You can practically walk through a house (virtually) before being there physically. Statistics show that more than 87% of buyers shop for their homes online before even reaching out to a realtor.
Tip 4: Don’t buy a project, buy a home
Buyers sometimes try to save money by purchasing a home that is a fix-a-upper thinking they can save money. Fix-a-uppers can cost you more than you bargained for. When choosing a home this summer, pay attention to the bones of the home – decide if the floorplan works for your family and lifestyle. You may not like everything about the house, but there are some things you can live without. Instead of taking on a dozen projects that may cost you, choose a home that you can be happy in for at least the first few years.
Tip 5: Be a cash buyer or put down more than the typical down payment
Sellers are more apt to choose a buyer who can prove that they can buy a home with cash than wait through the uncertainty of a buyer with a loan that needs to be approved. Of course, not everyone can purchase a home with cash. If you can’t, having a large down payment will put you at an advantage. The typical down payment on an FHA loan is 3.5% in Metro Atlanta and typical conventional loan down payment is 20%. Who do you think the seller would choose – a buyer putting down 3.5% on an FHA or one putting down 10% or a buyer putting down 20% on a conventional vs a buyer putting down 50% down payment?
Tip 6: Get a Home Warranty!
As a realtor, it is my rule of thumb to ask the seller to provide a home warranty for my buyers. Sellers don’t have to comply and when they don’t, I purchase the home warranty myself as a courtesy to my buyer. I can’t tell you how many of my buyers have thanked me for making sure they got a home warranty. Things happen after you close, the last thing you want is to have one of your appliances or the AC unit break down with no protection.
Tip 7: Don’t take your inspection lightly!
Without a doubt, every home buyer should get an inspection. If you’re thinking that the cost is too much or the home doesn’t look like it needs an inspection – think again! This could be the biggest investment you make in your life, why would you make such a large investment and not know what you are getting into? Home inspections generally reveal current or potential problems and while you have the chance to do so, address these problems with the seller before you close on your new home.
Tip 8: Secure your home
Once you purchase your home, I strongly recommend that you re-key every exterior door. It doesn’t matter if the seller says, “we just had all new keys made” – you never know what could happen. You also want to reprogram the alarm system if there is one and if there isn’t one, consider getting one.
Tip 9: Take care of repairs before moving in
Repairs come in all forms and sizes. It can be as simple as patching and painting holes left from the seller’s family pictures or refinishing the floors with a fresh coat of stain. An empty house is easiest for contractors or a handyman to work on than a home full of furniture and boxes.
Tip 10: Make your new home your own – add the finishing touches
Whew! The home is finally yours and you want it to look like you live there – not the previous owner. Here are some things you can do – update the paint color with a more modern choice; trade in those brass fixtures for some brushed nickel or stainless steel; change the light fixtures to something more contemporary; add some colorful artwork to the walls and lastly – use rugs to define your space an add warmth.