The 4 Critical Steps to Buying a Home

Yesterday a visitor to my website asked, “What are the first steps to buying a distressed home?”. My answer is that they are the same first steps to buying a home- of any sort.

Step Number One- Get your financial ducks in a row

Ugh! Not the most fun step, right? You were hoping the first step was look at pretty homes to get a “feel” for the market place, perhaps? Yeah, not so much.

It is critical that you identify two things, upfront. The first is how much you can borrow and the second is how much you should borrow.

The “how much can you borrow” will involve finding a knowledgable lender who will review your income, debt, assets and credit. Based upon the type of loan you choose the lender will tell you a maximum loan amount and purchase price.

The “how much should you borrow” involves a careful assessment of your lifestyle, risk tolerance and overall financial plan. While this is mostly a conversation with yourself and your significant other, you might chose to consult your tax professional, financial profession or a trusted advisor (like Mom and Dad).

Step Number Two- Set your priorities

There a lot of things a person might want from the home they buy. Common attributes are:

  • Financial Investment
  • Safety
  • Schools
  • Community
  • Convenience
  • Entertainment/Recreation
  • Aesthetics

However, everyone wants these things in different ways. Which of these attributes are most important to you? What are your most haves and which woud you sacrifice?

This exercise will ensure that you avoid the mistake of buying a “pretty” house and ensure that the home you chose is one that will work for you.

Step Number Three- Choose a Realtor, or not

The multiple list is essentially open to the public and you don’t need a Realtor to find homes for sale. If you decide to buy a home that you have found you can certainly use the listing agent to write and negotiate for you.

But, is that in your best interests? Do buyers need their own Realtors? Clicking that link will take you to an article I wrote on the subject, but the upshot is you should decide on your strategy before you find the house. If you decide that you find value in having your own advocate, I recommend that you interview for the right Realtor. Sellers often go through a whole process to find the best negotiator possible. Shouldn’t you do the same?

How you chose this Realtor is really the subject of a whole different article, but I think you need to find the best negotiator possible. Other important characteristics are deep local connections, a great reputation with other Realtors and the ability to educate you on a wide variety of issues.

Step Number Four- Go look at Homes

“Finally!”  Yes, Virginia, “finally“.  You are now properly armed to find a home, stay away from a mistake home, and to know what to do when you find a home you want to buy.

Start with the search tools that are right here, at Kendyl’s Open House.  Go see some open homes.  Cruise Craig’s list for For Sale by Owners or drive the mean streets of your chosen area for leads on homes for sale.


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