When you hear of a friend or family member buying a home, it sounds like a very wise thing to do—a savvy investment and a nice step to take in life. However, when roles are reversed and you are the prospective home buyer, you will quickly realize just how emotionally complex the process can be. After all, you aren’t just envisioning a place to rest your head. When you’re buying a home, you’re simultaneously imagining the memories you will make and evaluating how the layout will work for your lifestyle, whether the location is right and so on.
For many, the expense of buying a home is one of the major stressors. Further complicating matters for many house hunters around the country right now are record-low levels of inventory and record-high home prices. It’s worth remembering, though, that those numbers do not tell the full story. Mortgage rates remain low, and customizable homeowner insurance policies can go a long way toward keeping your budget in check.
The fact remains that house hunting is a big undertaking. But when you approach it with some strategies to help you stay positive, you can keep your calm while finding the perfect place.
Try opening your mind to expand your search
When you’re looking for a home, it’s fine (and expected!) if there are some criteria on which you are unwilling to compromise. Maybe your heart is set on a walk-in closet. Maybe you are looking for a fixer-upper to build some sweat equity in the home. Maybe you will only feel comfortable with a home that has a fenced yard for your dog. Starting by getting honest with yourself about non-negotiable factors can help you avoid wasting your energy during the search.
On the other side of the coin, you should also think about ways in which you would consider expanding your hunt:
- Would you be willing to look at homes in neighboring communities?
- Could you do with less square footage if there is more outdoor living space?
- Do you need a finished basement now or is that something you could tackle in the future?
As needs change with the rise of remote work and kids going back to school, revisiting some items that were initially on your “nice to have” list could help open up a much larger selection of homes and price points.
Avoid financial guesswork
Buying a home is a process that involves both your heart and your head—and it can be heartbreaking to learn you fell in love with a home that’s outside of your budget comfort zone. Although mortgage rates and competitive sale prices can feel like moving targets, you can get a feel for the price of your homeowner insurance with online tools and quotes. Because homeowner insurance is necessary for anyone who is taking out a mortgage (and a good idea for anyone who owns a home), it is an important factor to consider during the house selection.
By also having an understanding of how different variables can affect a home’s insurance price, you may be able to narrow your search field. For example, a home on a low-lying side of a neighborhood may be more expensive to insure than one that is similarly priced just a few streets over. Or you may learn that a home with a new roof can help you save. When you keep factors like these in mind, you can be a more informed, empowered home buyer.
Work with experts you trust
In general, people will only buy or sell a home a few times throughout their lives. So, naturally, there are some questions that you may not even know to ask. That’s where it pays to put in a little work ahead of time to assemble a trusted, experienced team of experts who can help guide you through the process. Not only can this position you to find the right house, but it also can help you get it for the right price.
If you are just dipping your toes into the house search, start by getting referrals or reading reviews for real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and insurance companies. The truth is that reputation matters—so feeling like you’re well taken care of with a person or company is always the best call.
Don’t put pressure on your timeline
There are instances when a move has to happen on a specific timeline. However, if you’re in a position to be a little more flexible, you can set yourself up for a more peaceful experience. Historically, there are times of the year when inventory is low in the housing market. The flip side is that there may be more competition among other house hunters during higher inventory times. By giving yourself several months to see what is listed, you may be able to enter the market at just the right time.
When you’re immersed in the house search, it can feel like you constantly need to be on call and ready to act—and that doesn’t exactly lend itself to a calm, enjoyable experience. Just like you need occasional breaks from work, also be willing to take a step back from the search if it begins to feel like too much. If a house comes and goes during that time, it simply wasn’t meant to be.
Finally, when you’re looking for a house, know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although you may not be able to picture the exact style of the home you’ll end up in or what the yard looks like, you should be able to channel the sense of peace that you will feel when you unlock that front door for the very first time.
Read the full article and more at Realtor.com