5 Tips for Buying a House
The home-buying process is lengthy and involved – no matter how many times you’ve been through it. For the first-time home-buyer it can additionally seem a bit overwhelming. A great realtor will do everything in their power (and then some extra magic) to make the process as smooth and simple as possible, but there are ways you can prepare as well. With preparation the home-buying process can be fun and free of worry. Don’t miss the chance to buy the home you fall in love with! With the right planning you can be ready to jump on the perfect house the moment you find it. The tips on this list are the result of decades of personal experience helping buyers in the Houston area have a great time finding the perfect home. Here are 5 of the best tips to help you buy a house:
1: Prioritize Your Requirements
It’s easiest to start with your personal preferences before you work your way outward. Homes, locations, and included amenities vary SIGNIFICANTLY from home to home. The likelihood that you’ll find an exact fit for your precise, personal preferences is low but you can still get many of the things you want – if you prioritize correctly. Before contacting a realtor, determine the 2 absolute ‘musts’ you’ll need in a home. These could include things like:
- Flooring preference (hardwood, laminate, tile, carpeting)
- Granite, tiled, and/or wooden countertops
- Window and natural/artificial lighting preferences
- Office, loft, or ‘man-cave’ requirements
- Workshop, shed, or garage space
- Pool/Jacuzzi included
Knowing the two desires you’re immovable on, then prioritizing the rest in their order of importance, will help your realtor create a realistic list of potential homes for you to explore. For couples this can get a little tricky, compromise may be required in some cases. Couples who manage to agree on the two are far more likely to find the right home together – and have fun in the process.
2: Be Flexible
When it comes to buying a house there are 3 Major Things for you to consider: location, condition, and price. What’s the catch? Well, you (typically) only get to select 2.
Location: This category includes things like local businesses and nearby restaurants, parks and recreation options, school districts, neighborhood inclusiveness, and more. For example, if I have a client who wants to live in West University but unwilling or unable to match the house price required, one of the “3 Major Things” will have to give.
Condition: Property size, home size, age, wear, and other factors of the house/property fall into this category. The client who wants to live in West University may have to be flexible on the conditions, opting instead for a condo, smaller property, or “fixer-upper” rather than their original ideal home.
Price: Price is combination of preference and math, with more focus on the math. I recommend calculating your max, then settling on a price at or below that amount you’ll be comfortable with.
The simplest, quickest way to determine your price range is to:
- 1. Take the sum of your income
- 2. Add to that the sum of your spouses (if applicable)
- 3. Multiply the total by 3
GENERALLY speaking, with a good credit score and a good debt-to-income ratio, you’ll qualify for roughly 3x your annual income. If you have a gift amount or down-payment for the house, you’ll want to consider that as well.
3: Do Your Research
With all of the tools available, research is easier today than ever before. For that reason, plus the incredible amount of value it offers, you really should do some research. I recommend Google Maps for the ability to view homes from “Street View”. This gives perspectives of the home not pictured in the official listing. Seeing the home from the street can show you power lines you didn’t know existed, obstructions to your views, or adjacent properties you would rather avoid. With online research you can discover facts and information about the area, helping you decide whether or not to pursue a particular home.
4: Get Pre-Approved
You’ve already determined how much you’d like to spend, now it’s time to make sure the money will be there when you need it. I recommend finding a local broker for your home loan pre-approval. A local broker will allow for easy communication with your realtor and the sellers. A loan broker will examine your income, bank history, debt-to-income ratio, and credit history before securing a pre-approved loan amount. Knowing your approved amount will grant you the power to make a serious offer when you find the right home. Before you contact your broker, gather the following documents to make the process as quick and easy as possible:
- Several months of bank statements, easily downloaded from your bank’s website
- Tax returns for the previous 2 years
- Pay stubs from past few pay cycles (for the self-employed, tax returns and bank statements will do)
- Any other proof of income
The pre-approval process is typically complete within a matter of days, quickly giving you answers, confidence, and serious buying power.
5: Take Inventory
You know your ideal location, what you need and what you’re flexible on, and you’ve got your pre-approval – now you think you’ve found the right house. Before you take that last leap into ownership, take stock of the included home inventory. What appliances are included? Is there a pool, Jacuzzi, or maybe a fireplace? Built-in and included amenities can either add value or expense to the home. Additionally, appliances may not always be included. For example, the cost to maintain a pool or Jacuzzi should be considered before purchasing a house with one installed. Essential appliances like a refrigerator or stove can be expensive to purchase if the home comes without them. Expenses such as these are much more easily managed when they are expected.
If you’re planning to buy a home these 5 tips for the home-buying process will go a long way in helping make it easy, fast, and fun. I love helping people find the right home. If you’re thinking about buying a home let’s talk about it, I always have time to answer your questions. Call me at 713-965-4338 and let’s start looking!