These tips come from REALTOR® experience with all manner of home buyers: first-timers, move-ups, empty-nesters, and so on. Keep this list in mind to help you get into the home of your dreams with the assurance that your feelings have been felt countless times before.
1. There's no "right" time to buy anymore than there's a right time to sell. Conditions are currently stellar for the home buyer. Affordability is up, inventory is plentiful, interest rates are at historical lows and you have an $8,000 head start courtesy of the federal government's tax credit for first-time home buyers. But second-guessing where interest rates and home prices are going is a dubious strategy. Changes don't usually occur fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won't stay long on the market.
2. Don't ask for too many opinions from friends, coworkers and family. It's natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas will make it much harder to make a decision.
3. Accept that no house is ever perfect. Focus in on the things that are most important to you and let the minor ones go.
4. Find a REALTOR® who is agreeable and likable. Buying a home is not only a big financial commitment but also an emotional one. It's critical that the practitioner you choose is both skilled and a good fit with your personality.
5. Don't lose by being a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to "win" by getting an extra-low price may lose you the home you desire.
6. Remember that your home doesn't exist in a vacuum. Don't get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself—room size, kitchen, square footage—that you forget such issues as amenities, noise level, and proximity to work and school. Many factors should play into what it will be like to live in your new home.
7. Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-purchase budget. Even if you buy a brand new home, there will be some costs. Don't leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.
8. Accept that a little buyer's remorse is inevitable and will probably pass quickly. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big commitment, but it also yields huge long-term benefits.
9. Choose a home first because you love it; then think about price appreciation. A home's most important role is as a comfortable, safe place to live.
10. Don't wait until you've found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate insurance availability and consider a moving schedule. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers. With lending practices returning to standards that existed prior to the boom years, it will ultimately benefit you to have your financials ready to go and your calendar open.