When you are looking to buy a home, it is important to ask key questions before you get too involved in the home shopping process. It’s easy to get sucked into searching Zillow or Redfin looking for great deals, or that rare home in your perfect neighborhood. But you might be setting yourself up for frustration if you don’t ask these key questions ahead of time.
How much house can I afford?
You likely have an idea of how much you want to pay monthly for a mortgage, but that may not take into account important factors when borrowing money to purchase a home like what the current state of your credit may be, the impact of current interest rates, and factors related to your recently employment history. Speaking with a mortgage lender before you shop will help you put guard rails on your home shopping and save you a lot of headache and disappointment from unclear expectations. Or maybe you have more options that you expected? It’s better to know before you shop.
How much is my home worth?
We all tend to overvalue our own homes and we love it when a tool like Zillow or Redfin validate our hunches, but if you home hasn’t sold on the open market in the past few years, those tools can be wildly incorrect. Connecting to a real estate professional to understand the value of your home before listing or shopping is helpful for getting the full picture. A routine inspection will help you find potential problems like cracked foundations, aged roof, or even property line confusion before it derails your home buying plans.
Am I ready to move?
If you haven’t moved in a while, you are likely greatly underestimating the work involved. Counting the cost of moving includes reviewing whether fresh paint, cleaned carpets, or a major shed clean-out are necessary to exit the home. Having these projects done before listing your home or shopping for a new one is essential.
What is the condition of the new home?
Is the home you’re shopping for move-in ready or will it require significant work? Do you plan to live in it while renovating or live elsewhere? Knowing these potential scenarios will help you understand whether you need to negotiate a rent-back scenario or maybe even apply for a bridge loan to buy you the appropriate time to enter the new home.
What are my requirements?
Do you need an ADA accessible entry? Do you need a level lot, enclosed garage, two full bathrooms, or a wood burning stove? Chances are that you will have to compromise on your dream list of home features, but deciding what are the non-negotiable requirements will help your real estate agent narrow down your options and not waste time touring homes that don’t meet your needs. It’s better to have those discussions before you start actively shopping rather than figuring it out as you go.
Answering all of these questions ahead of time will better prepare you to shop for a new home. As each of these question can come with financial costs attached to them, it will also help you prepare for what amount of extra cash or loan amount you might need beyond the purchase price in order to make your new home, your dream home.