Buying a home is one of the best investments you can make, so it’s important to take the right steps to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
First, figure out how much you can afford. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a calculator on its web site to help you determine how much you can spend on a house.
After you determine how much house you can afford, shop for a lender. Make sure you talk to several and ask each what its current mortgage interest rates are and whether the rates being quoted are the lowest for that day or week. Also ask whether the rate is fixed or adjustable. If the loan is adjustable, when interest rates go up, the monthly payment generally increases as well. Make sure to get a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter before you begin looking at homes. You don’t want to fall in love with something that’s just out of reach! That’s like my brother wanting to date Christie Brinkley.
Now that you know how much you can spend and how much you can borrow, it’s time to look for a home. Even though you’ll find many gorgeous home listings on the internet, most buyers are better off using a professional agent who can help with strategies during negotiations. So many of the properties listed for sale on general internet sites are actually already sold, are short sales or are off the market, but the web site hasn’t been updated yet.
Choose a broker who’s familiar with the neighborhoods you’re considering and can analyze a home’s relative value to the current market and the potential to increase in value over the course of time. While no one has a crystal ball with respect to future increases (we may go off a cliff at any time) there should be a sense that the house you’ve chosen meets the basic market fundamentals for good future resale.
Make a wish list of all the elements you’re looking for in a home and share it with your agent. Are schools a factor? Do you want an older home or a newer home? Contemporary or traditional? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
When you’ve decided on the home you want to buy, hire an inspector to identify potential problems that could require costly repairs. A home inspection gives the buyer detailed information about the home’s physical condition, identifies items that need to be repaired or replaced and estimates the remaining useful life of major systems, structure and finishes. Your broker can negotiate with the existing owner to be sure major problems with a home are solved before closing. In Colorado, our real estate contract is contingent on an inspection and an appraisal.
Make it fun! The process can be stressful at times, but there is nothing like the excitement of getting into your next place to call home. check out Pinterest for colors and decorating ideas, then go for a walk and enjoy the amazing Denver climate!
Gretchen Rosenberg is a local Denver real estate broker and is happy to answer any questions about the home buying process. Just hit the contact button at the top of the page and submit your real estate question!