Buying a home: the first steps

Buying a home is an exciting venture and it's easy to get overwhelmed by the abundance of information available. Knowing the right steps to take will help make the process easier.

Buying a home: the first steps

Because homeownership is a major investment, you need to be sure that your new home fits your needs and your budget. The first step in househunting is to talk over your needs and wants with your family.  Here are some topics to discuss.

  1. Future family needs. Visualize the plans you would like to put in place. For instance, you should have enough bedrooms and bathrooms to suit the next five years or so. If you have, or plan to have, young children, they will need good schools and access to recreation and friends.
  2. Career. Assess the current and future situation. Are you going to want to work at home? Retire soon? How long do you want your commute to be?
  3. Lifestyle. Do you prefer the quiet, country life or a busy urban setting? Consider, too, how you like to entertain and relax. How important is having a formal dining room or a comfortable family room? Do you need a guest bedroom? How much space do you want for a yard and garden?
  4. Old vs. new. Older homes generally offer a level of craftsmanship and architectural individuality that is hard to find in new homes. But if simple lines and maintenance-free living are more your style, look at newer properties. Once you begin looking for a home, find a reliable real estate agent and, in particular, a real estate agent who has your best interests in mind. When you interview real estate agents, find out how they are compensated for a sale. They often receive a portion of the commission under an arrangement called sub-agency. Agents need to reveal who they represent. You might want to look into the option of a buyer-broker or buyer-agent, who represents the buyer exclusively. Later on, you will need an attorney to handle the legal work involved in a home sale. If you don't already have one, ask friends for recommendations and then interview lawyers over the telephone and face-to-face.

These steps will help you make an informed decision about what to look for when buying a home or putting your house on the market.

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