Starting the Buying Process


Where do I begin the process of looking for a home?

The first thing you should do is to begin focusing on what you're looking for in a home. You can start by establishing priorities in the following three areas:

Location: Are you relocating to a new town because of a new job or to be closer to your current job? How will the location of schools, shops, and transportation affect your choice of neighborhood?

Personal Tastes: How large of a home do you need? What style of architecture do you prefer? What type of lot do you prefer? Depending on where you move to, you may have a choice of homes in dozens of styles, sizes, and settings.

Budget: How much home can you comfortably afford?

As you consider these issues, do a little research of your own. Look through magazines for ideas about home styles and features. Drive through neighborhoods that appeal to you to see what's available. Read the real estate listings in the newspaper to learn about current prices in the areas you're considering. Talk to friends about the features that you'd really like to have in your home. The more knowledgeable you become, the better your final decision is likely to be.

Then sit down and consider carefully all the things you're looking for in a home. The Homebuyer's Wish List worksheet later in this section is a good starting point. When you've filled it out, you'll begin to get a good idea of what you'd like your dream home to be.

How do I find the right sales professional to work with?

The key word here is "right." While there's certainly no shortage of qualified sales professionals to choose from, it's important that you find one who can fully understand your wants, needs and individual tastes, and whose personal and professional judgment you respect.

Today's buyers also have more choices when it comes to choosing the sales professional who can best represent them in a real estate transaction. Until recent years, virtually all real estate professionals involved in a given transaction worked for the seller. However, a growing number of today's home buyers are choosing to be represented by a "buyer's agent," who represents the buyer in contrast to the traditional seller/sales professional relationship.

Many real estate companies throughout the United States have both buyer and seller agencies. A sales professional should present you with a disclosure statement before any working relationship is created. That statement should explain what a buyer's agent is and does, what a seller's agent is and does, and what dual agency means. It is very important to remember that real estate firms are governed by laws that can vary by state. Disclosure laws also vary by state.

Here are a few guidelines about the kind of service and experience you should be looking for. Plus review the top Six Reasons to Choose an ERA Professional.

How do I know how much home I can afford?

We've found that affordability is probably the single biggest concern of today's first-time home buyers. Given the wide range of media coverage regularly devoted to the issue, it's not surprising that many young families wonder how long it will take them to afford their first home.

Our advice: Don't sell yourself short. Talk to your real estate professional. A good sales professional is committed to honestly and responsibly working with you to determine your affordable price range. There are many financing options available today, and some include low down payments. Your sales professional will help find an option that fits your budget, and you may be surprised at just how much home you can afford.

For tips on various mortgages and more, see the "Financing" section.


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