Real Estate Resolutions: Tips for Homebuyers

Planning to buy in 2011? Preparation is the key to getting the best deal when shopping for a new home. Following are some tips to help you get started:

Define Needs Versus Wants: Make a list of your needs versus wants in the new home. For example, if you have a large and growing family then four bedrooms might be a necessity, while a pool might be negotiable.

Select a Location: Spend some time driving around town, researching schools and local amenities, crime rates, and other safety considerations. Select three to five areas to focus your search on.

Get Pre-Qualified: Find out how much you will be eligible to borrow and begin the paperwork so you are prepared to move quickly should a great deal arise.

Contact an Agent: Ask family and friends, perform a search for real estate agents that specialize in your target area, or consider using the services of a buyer’s agent. Let them know the price range you have been approved for, the type of home and zip codes of interest.

Read, Set and Search: Sign up for automatic listing notifications and begin viewing prospective properties online. Ask your agent for additional photos, virtual tour links and a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report, if available, which gives the insurance claim and loss history for residential properties. Once you find a property of interest, take a few minutes to google it before actually driving out in person. It’s often easy to see areas of concern from an aerial view as opposed to in person.