Home Search Preparation Tips

Hunting for a new home is exciting, but the process may seem overwhelming. You can’t just search “Smithfield VA homes for sale” and find the perfect candidate. However, with a little preparation and a few tips and tricks, you can find the right house for you.

Handle the Money

If you will need to get a mortgage loan for your new home, you should make sure your finances are in order. Pay off debt and save for a down payment. Identify any bad marks on your credit that need to be fixed before you pursue a mortgage loan. Organize your financial records so they are available to lenders when you start applying for loans.

Next, research loan options, such as interest rates, length of the mortgage loan and other loan terms, such as prepayment penalties. Calculate the payment you can afford each month and base your house budget on that amount. Most lenders suggest that you purchase a home no more than 2-3 times your annual gross income, but a payment that is no more than 25% of your take-home pay.

Write Down What You Want

Only you can clearly define your needs and wants. For example, how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want? Do you need any extra rooms, such as art studios or offices, or bonus space for a home theater or kids play area? Do you want to live in a condo or have a yard for your children? You may even want to live in a rural area with some acreage rather than living in town. Think about your immediate and long-term needs.

Choose Areas

If you are moving to a new town, choosing the right area may take a bit of extra work. For example, you may have to ask your coworkers, boss or real estate professionals about the best neighborhoods or rural areas and their proximity to good schools and your office.

Next, research these areas. Find out their crime rates, average home price and average home size and composition. You won’t be looking for a four-bedroom house in a neighborhood filled with 2-bedroom homes or lots of condo development. You also want to learn about the home values in the area and their rate of appreciation or depreciation.

Let the Search Begin

Start with an in-depth online search of the homes in your desired areas and make a list. Then, consider contacting a reputable real estate agent, preferably one who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®. Be realistic about what you can afford and avoid going over budget.

Take the uncertainty out of finding a new home with a little preparation and a great real estate agent.