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6 Tips to Jumpstart Your Home Buying Process for 2019

Dave Kolakowski

Dave Kolakowski is "Head-of-Stuff" at Living In Metro DC and an area resident for over 45 years...

Dave Kolakowski is "Head-of-Stuff" at Living In Metro DC and an area resident for over 45 years...

Dec 21 5 minutes read

Buying a home can be a challenge.

Here are 6 top tips to jump-start your home buying process!



1. Know what you can buy

"For any home buyer, one of the best tips would be to get pre-approved before you start looking. You need to know exactly what you can buy before diving in and it's a good idea to get all of your ducks in a row before you start looking." 

Getting pre-approved is definitely the first step in buying your home. Your agent will gladly suggest lenders whom our clients have had fantastic experiences with and who we know will take great care of you. Your lender will analyze your credit score, debt to income ratio, job history, and several other factors to ensure that once we find your home, we are able to start processing your loan and close within 30 to 45 days or sooner.

2. Avoid becoming house poor

"Don't be house poor. Don’t let the bank number dictate your budget. Base your purchase on the quality of life you want while you are living there."

We know that 86% of home buyers will purchase within 10% of their maximum preapproval. Yikes. That's not always a good idea. Your lender will tell you what you are able to get a loan for a purchase, but how do you know what you can actually "afford"? While this is somewhat a personal decision, a good suggestion is about 30% of your monthly income as a good measure of affordability.

3. Don't trust the photos alone

"Don’t judge a house by its pictures alone. Check out the other description info and let’s talk about it before you mark it off your list.  Many buyers have loved pictures and not loved the house or have been surprised by how much they love the house once they see it in person."

Photos on the MLS and Zillow are very dependent on the skill level of the photographer or in some cases... the agent! 😬Some photographers/agents will use fish-eye lenses to make rooms look larger than they appear. Some will use their iPad to take the photos and they are so bad that you miss half of the beautiful home due to bad lighting and terrible photography. If the home matches everything you are looking for on paper and you are struggling to look passed amateur photos, check it out in person just to be sure you aren't passing on your ideal home.

4. The perfect home does not exist.

"Concessions will be made, no matter what price point you're at. However, the "right" home is out there! A good agent can help balance expectations with the reality of the current market - which leads to successfully matching your unique priorities to home qualities, and guiding you to the "right" one."

Ah yes. We are all looking for "the one", but what if you find "the two"?? That's ideal. In reality, what we see is that our clients will find a home that fist almost all of their criteria. They find one that meets their needs, provides a lot of their wants, and there are always a few things that they have to "put up with"; items that they don't necessarily like and sometimes cannot do anything about. And that is ok!

5. Even the perfect home has issues

They need to be prepped for inspection reports. A good agent should let them know what small things to expect in older homes and how to determine important issues vs normal wear and tear. 

Let's pretend that you do find "the one"... it is going to have some issues! Inspectors are paid to find everything they can WRONG with the property and that is what we want to happen! There is something at every property that needs to be fixed, repaired, serviced, or replaced, so don't be shocked when you feel like your home is a pile of rubble after the inspection! Just kidding. It's not usually that bad.

6. Start with the right agent

"There are several things that first-time buyers need to be aware of. Their budget, right house, area, lenders, mortgage type and more! They can get all of that information easily if they have the right agent. That would be my tip: Make sure you are working with a great agent!".

The right agent can help you take care of ALL of the above! A great agent will have the contacts, resources, and knowledge to guide you through the entire home search and home buying process. They have the skills to help you filter the market to only see what you are actually interested in and make difficult decisions about your future home, inform your offer, and know when to walk away! The Right Agent is crucial in your home search!

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