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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Miller

5 Things You Need to do Before You Buy

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

5 Things You Need to do Before You Buy

So you are wanting to buy your first home or a secondary property that’s terrific. Considering the amazing interest rates in 2020 it’s the perfect time to be buying hard assets like real estate. However, there are few things you need to do first to ensure this is a good/smooth process.

1. Speak to a lender, if you are borrowing, or your financial person if you are paying cash to determine your absolute max budget. Before you even start to look you need to determine the absolute max price you can afford to purchase. This is not to say you’ll spend that much but everyone needs to know their max limit so you only look at homes you can actually afford.

2. If financing you need to get a prequalification form completed by your lender or better yet get conditional preapproval. A conditional pre-approval means that you’ve been through some level of underwriting and the lender has determined that you are a good candidate to get your loan, assuming the home appraises or passes other conditions. A preapproval will always look stronger than a PreQualification when you are making an offer. In our competitive environment, you need to come to the table with the strongest offer possible.

3. Determine your closing costs!! This is all of the additional cash that you need to come up with at closing plus factor in the earnest money (usually 1% at a minimum) which has to be paid out at the time your offer is accepted. Ask your lender for the costs of the loan and in Arizona have your agent ask the escrow officer for an estimate on your title costs. If you are financing you’ll need to purchase a title policy for the lender.

You don’t want to get under contract and then not be able to close because you don’t have the necessary closing costs covered. You could be putting your earnest money at risk or putting yourself in a position to be sued for non-performance.

4. Make a list of your must-have items and would be nice items. Ask yourself why you are moving and this will help flush out these items to look for in a property.

a. Must Have’s are items like minimum bed/bath count, school districts, proximity to work, desired floor

plan, amenities in the neighborhood etc..

b. Must be nice items could be cosmetically related like granite or quartz counters or a kitchen island,

walk-in closets, etc…

Sometimes it’s beneficial to make a scoring sheet, giving different weights to different homes based on their importance. It will really help you evaluate each house for how it really serves your needs versus how pretty the finishes are inside. Remember you can’t move a house but you can change the finishes.

5. Determine the area you want to live in. Scottsdale is a large valley with different pockets offering different things so drive around and see what area will best suit your needs. This might be determined by areas within a set distance to work, by schools in the area, or access to shopping and restaurants. Only you can determine which is most important.

If you are buying in a new city this is where an agent’s expertise can come into play. I always suggest a visit to tour the city and the different areas first so you can figure out where you’d like to live. Otherwise, you will spin your wheels looking in every direction leaving you exhausted and frustrated.

Again, a grading chart for different areas can also be helpful in this situation.

If you are thinking about moving but have a property to sell first, then you might want to download my staging tips to prepare your home for sale. I’ve used these again and again when selling my homes. Every home I’ve owned has sold in less than 7 days (at the most), in a non-frenzy market, so they definitely work.

[Staging Tips link]

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