The housing market may be slightly slowing down, but sales are still moving fast, and sellers still have their pick among multiple offers. Here is what you need to know to find your new home.

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Be Prepared

 

Because home sales are moving fast, you need to be ready to buy. Get pre-qualified, so you know exactly how much mortgage you can afford. Likewise, potential buyers will know that your funding is likely to be approved.

 

If you don’t have your financing lined up, buyers may pick another offer with mortgage pre-qualification, so it is worth the time to prepare before looking at houses. If you’re not sure how your credit stacks up, we’re happy to help you get ready to buy a home. We can go over your credit report with you and see if there are any issues that we need to address before you apply for a mortgage.

 

Find the Right Agent

 

A licensed realtor can be your best friend when it comes to buying a house. They will know how to find the homes that fit your needs and budget. And they may get notified of homes for sale before they are officially on the market. In a fast-moving market, early notification can be crucial in getting you the home of your dreams.

 

Be Open to “For Sale By Owner” Properties

 

Although working with a realtor is crucial, be on the lookout for homes that sellers have listed without a realtor. Listing sites such as Redfin are good resources to find homes that are off your realtor’s radar, and so are trips to the neighborhoods you like. You may see a for sale sign on a home that could be perfect.

 

Know the Difference Between Wants and Needs

 

It can be challenging to find a home that checks all your boxes, so it’s essential to agree on what is negotiable and what is a deal-breaker. For example, the price might be your most significant determinant, and then you have a list of must-haves, nice-to-haves, and features that don’t really matter. Your realtor can help you see whether your must-haves are reasonable for your price range and the area where you want to buy.

 

Be Picky

 

Unless you plan to move in a few years, it is worth being picky about the details of your home. Look behind wall art. Explore gardens to see if there are any hidden flaws. Check inside cupboards and closets for any signs of water or other damage. Your home inspection will find hidden issues, but looking for flaws before putting in an offer will serve you better. If you end up pulling out of a purchase because of a poor inspection, you may waste time that you could spend getting into a home that is a good fit and will pass an inspection without requiring major repairs.

 

But Be Willing to Put in Work

 

Although major structural flaws or damage may not be what you signed up for when you decided to buy a home, minor work before you move in or during your first few years in a home can help you get a better deal on a house that is almost perfect.

 

For example, if the buyer offers a discount because they haven’t updated the flooring in years, you can save money on the purchase price and get the flooring you really want installed before you have to work around furniture. Or you could agree to work on the landscaping or paint the interior yourself rather than ask the owners to perform that work before the sale closes. Making it easier for the seller may make them more interested in your offer.

 

Stay Focused

 

When you feel pressured, you might make a decision you later regret. A great example of this is falling in love with a home that is out of your price range and making an offer because other people are making offers, and the buyer wants to make a decision fast. Spending more than your budget on a home is a mistake that will hurt your finances for years.

 

Even though your income may increase over time to make the payments more reasonable, the years you’re paying more than you can afford until that happens will hurt. You may fall behind on maintenance because you can’t afford it or cut into your savings, keeping you from reaching your long-term financial goals. Job loss or other economic setbacks will also hit harder, as your budget is already stretched too thin.

 

Buying a home is a big decision, and these tips will help you find the right home, even in a challenging market.