Is 2018 The Year of the Home?
Advice on Buying a Home in MN
When you make the transition from renter to owner, you become the recipient of many benefits, both practical ones, and emotional ones as well. For many people, homeownership is an important rite of passage on the highway into adulthood, probably second only to becoming a parent. Why? Because owning a home enables you to assume more control of two very important aspects of your life; your net worth and your personal environment. Most people would find that pretty exciting stuff! Many of us, when we become adults especially, want to have as much control over our lives as possible, or at least feel that we do!
So if 2018 is your year to purchase that downtown Minneapolis loft, starter home in the burbs, or downsize to the townhome you have always dreamed of, we have some great tips we are dying to share with you.
Prepare Your Finances
If you haven’t already done so, contact a mortgage broker or banker and get pre-approved. This is the only way to know for certain how much house you can afford to buy and what amount of cash you will require for a down payment and closing costs. Online calculators are fine for giving you a ballpark idea but there are too many other factors to consider. If you start looking at properties that are out of your reach, the reality of what you can afford may seem less appealing and sabotage your home buying experience or at the very least, waste your valuable time.
If you are still saving, or paying off debt and not quite ready to buy until later on in the year, stay focused. The upcoming holiday season offers great temptations to spend. Resist them! If you want to buy a home this year, nix the lavish gifts, the new car, the expensive vacation and play the Scrooge this year. This will put you in the best position to buy a home and you will be happy you followed this advice, no matter how enticing Christmas on Waikiki Beach might be!
Determine What Home Suits Your Lifestyle, Circumstances, and Personality
Some people know right out of the gate that they want to buy a three bedroom single family in the burbs with a large backyard for growing fruits and veggies, flower beds and a place for entertaining family and friends. However, Heather’s dream home might be a horror show for Alison, who abhors yard work, is allergic to everything that blooms and is totally freaked out by all varieties of insects. She knows that a condo in the city, maybe with a small balcony is the perfect home for her. On the other hand, The Kirby’s, our empty-nesters, have decided to downsize and buy a townhome with a large deck and small private backyard to putter around in the flower beds without having to worry about lawn maintenance or upkeep.
If you are undecided, and some days feel you want a single family and other days want that stylish city loft you need to do some serious soul searching and evaluation of your lifestyle both today and what it will look like for the near future. Attend some open houses and as you walk through that condo and explore the community picture yourself living there. This is an important decision and should not be taken lightly.
Decide on Location
If you are an urban personality and want to live in Minneapolis do you have several neighborhoods in mind? Explore them. Drive around and check them out at different times of the day and different days of the week. Ask yourself a lot of questions. Are the shopping options available what you need and want? Is public transportation nearby? Do you want to be able to walk to restaurants and neighborhood coffee shops? Is the proximity of a park and bike trails meaningful to you? How important is proximity to work? Are you prepared to have less living space in exchange for having all the assets of an urban lifestyle at your doorstep?
If the suburban scene is more to your liking and you have or plan on having children make sure to check out the school system. Even if you don’t have children the quality of the school system in the community can have a direct impact on the property values so it is still important. Do you have adequate highway access? Do you want to be close to the light rail transit system? Are the recreational activities that are important to you close by?
Don’t forget to check out community websites. You can also find information on individual neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. All types of demographics including school ratings, economy, employment, and crime rates can be found on USA.com and Sperling’s Best Places. Check out listings for homes and how far your budget will take you. Perhaps you may find that you are willing to exchange being closer to all the action for a larger home in a quieter suburban setting. Always keep in mind that location is the one thing you cannot change.
Make Your List of Priorities
You should compile two lists when deciding what characteristics you want in your new home. One will be comprised of must-haves. How many bedrooms do you need? Do you want a large yard or a smaller one? How many bathrooms? Do you want a finished basement or prefer to build some equity by doing that yourself? If you work from home, is a dedicated room a necessity or can you carve out a nook to cover your needs? Put all the things that would absolutely be a deal breaker for you in the must-have column and the remainder into the wish list. These will be characteristics that would be desirable but you could forego if all the other needs were satisfied.
Work With a Professional
If you are sick you go to a doctor and if you have a legal situation you see a lawyer so when you buy or sell a home, you should have a realtor on your side. The act of buying real estate is getting more complicated all the time and having someone with knowledge of the market and of the neighborhoods as well as the workings of the process is invaluable.
When choosing a realtor certainly ask family and friends for recommendations but also do your own research online. Check out an agent’s website and experience. See what kind of information he shares and how knowledgeable he or she is about the market. Read some of the blog posts. Open houses are a great way to evaluate a realtor as well. Whatever you do, don’t go it alone. The seller is going to have a realtor looking out for his best interests and you should have one advocating for you as a buyer and since the seller pays the commission, it’s a win-win.
The journey of buying a home should be an exciting and fun process. Being well prepared is no guarantee everything will go smoothly, but if there are potholes in the road an experienced realtor can help you navigate through them.
If you have any questions about the process from start to finish give me a call or shoot me a text.