The good news in Windsor real estate is that we are hearing about lots of buying opportunities this spring. Buyers are eager to move now that prices are rising. It’s clear that the real estate market is off life support and breathing on its own. Is it back to where it was? No. Will it be? Who can predict the future? But buying a home is not the same experience it was before the housing industry fell apart. Securing loans are more difficult and good credit is more important than ever.
If you are looking to buy a home this year, here are some points to consider:
1. Buy and stay put.
If you are looking to buy a home, but think you may only stay for a year or two, then you may want to hold off on your home search. With transaction costs, you may end up losing money, even in a rising market like we have. Of course, if prices fall, then it’s a worse situation. The goal would be to stay in a home at least three years, but others say up to five.
2. Credit counts.
Mortgage companies are not loaning money right and left like they did before. And who can blame them? Get copies of your credit report and check to see if it’s accurate. If not, you need to correct. In the meantime, work on paying down your bills and save, save, save!!!
3. Buy a home you can afford.
Find an online calculator and get an idea on what you can comfortably afford. Consider the expenses of owning a home as well, such as insurance, utilities and the extras you will want to buy once you become a homeowner. The point is you don’t want to be house poor. In the past several years we have seen this happen to too many homeowners. Make sure you are able to continue saving. Keep in mind there are always emergencies when owning a house, so you need to be prepared.
4. Buy in a good school district.
Even if you don’t have children, buy in the best school district you can. When it comes time to sell, you will understand that top schools are a priority with most home buyers. It is always a huge selling point and will make your home sell faster than those properties in an undesirable school district.
5. Get a professional real estate agent.
Especially with first time home buyers, don’t attempt to buy a home without professional help. Yes, the Internet is valuable in retrieving information and stats, but it can’t replace the first hand knowledge and experience of a real estate agent. Hire someone who has expertise in the area that you want to buy. You always want to consider:
Location: is the home in a prime location, where schools, safety and amenities are good?
Construction: Real estate agents can tell you if the vacant land next to you is zoned for commercial use. This may be a deal breaker for you if it is. Or if your home with a view can be compromised.
Experience: Real estate agents know what is happening in a community and what properties to show you based on your discussions. Keep in mind that agents often know when homes will soon be on the market, so you can get a first hand look.
6. Get pre-approved.
This is something every home buyer should do prior to looking at homes. It not only can put you in a better position when making an offer on a home (sellers like to know prospective buyers can actually afford the home and are bidding in good faith), but it means that you won’t make offers on homes you can’t afford.
7. Educate yourself before making that offer.
Your opening bid should be based on the sales trends of similar homes in your neighbourhood. This is another good reason to have a professional real estate agent by your side. They can run comps and let you know if homes are selling at a certain percentage below the asking price.
8. Don’t ignore a home inspection.
The problems that can come up during a home inspection often surprises a seller, as they often have no idea that anything can be wrong with their home if they don’t notice it. For example, one seller was watching television when an inspector noticed that his foundation was crumbling. He had zero clue. So even if you can’t visibly see anything, you need to have an inspection which can cost you anywhere from $300 on up. It’s the best money you will ever spend as it can save you thousands of dollars or prevent you from buying a lemon.