How to Get THE Home at THE Price

Whether you are buying your first home or your fifth, the process of buying a home can be an emotional, time-consuming venture. As with most major decisions, the amount of work and research you undertake before you start shopping can have a dramatic effect on how well you do in the end. Use the following steps to make sure you're prepared for your house-shopping venture.

#1  Develop a List of Wants and Needs

ann arbor dream homes

Everyone can picture their ideal home. If you haven’t thoroughly prepared yourself prior to viewing houses, chances are that you will find what you think is your ideal home, and will wind up paying too much for it.

That’s why it’s recommended that you develop a list of needs and one of wants.  When looking at houses, make sure that they cover all of your needs—things like adequate space, a good neighborhood, perhaps a garage—and then have fun with items on your wants list.

#2 Get Pre-Approved 

get a loan

Visit your lending institution prior to shopping.  Be sure to get a mortgage commitment in writing. Being pre-approved gives you a solid price range, and lets your Realtor® and potential sellers know that you are serious and not just a browser.

#3 Get the right people behind you 

your ann arbor real estate team

Buying a home is a complicated process, with many people involved.  Having the right people on your side can make a big difference.  An experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable Realtor® can put a team of advocates, including lenders, lawyers, home inspectors and movers, on your side immediately. 

#4 Communicate 

communicate with your realtor

The more you share with your Realtor®, the better he or she will be able to represent you.  Letting your representative know exactly what you’re looking for, in terms of needs/wants, price range, and location, can eliminate unnecessary trips to unsuitable homes and that focus can help ensure that you wind up in the right home. 

#5 Don't Forget to Consider Location

your dream home

The desirability and resale value of your home depend on location more than any other factor. People want a desirable community that includes character, quality of schools, access to work, major transportation arteries, recreational facilities, etc.

Additional factors that affect the property value of a home include traffic, sounds, smells, zoning bylaws, and many others. Be objective. Be sure you are completely satisfied with the neighborhood. If you choose a neighborhood with problems, you likely won’t get as much as you hoped when it comes time to sell. 

#6 Use Your Realtor’s® Knowledge 

trust your realtor

Your Realtor® is trained in all aspects of real estate, including understanding supply and demand, economics, and the neighborhoods of the city in which they practice. A professional Realtor® can do much of the work for you, by reviewing your needs, reviewing available properties, and making an informed match. A comprehensive knowledge of the available homes in your neighborhood is one of your Realtor’s® strongest assets. With the aid of computerized systems, a Realtor® is notified within hours when a home becomes available. 

#7 Pay Attention to Red Flags 

buying a fixer-upper

When evaluating a home, be sure you know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable problems. Cosmetic items like peeling paint, worn carpeting, or unattractive wallpaper can be easily remedied, and can be used as negotiation items, as there will be costs involved in updating the home. Major problems, however, are clearly red flags.  Look for items such as major foundation cracks, water damage, outdated electrical systems, and inadequate plumbing. These items could be too expensive to remedy to make the home a worthwhile investment. 

#8 Hire a home inspector

hire a home inspector

A home inspection is an inexpensive way to gain peace of mind and guard your pocket book. A proper inspection will cover all areas of the house including foundation, electrical, heating, plumbing, floors, walls, ceilings, attic, roof, siding and trim, porches, patios, decks, garage and drainage. A professional inspector can give you an objective review of the property, with a written report, indicating the present condition and items that will need repair. 

#9 Be Cautious with Fixer-Uppers

be careful with fixer-uppers

Sometimes, a fixer-upper can be purchased below market value, and once sufficient repairs are made, can be sold at a significant profit. However, not all fixer-uppers will bring in the profits you might expect.  Right now many buyers are searching for foreclosures, and usually these homes need work. Your Realtor® and home inspector are your best allies when it comes to cost-benefit analyses.

#10 Consider Your Future Needs

planning for a baby

A move can be a major undertaking. Take a good look at your current lifestyle and consider the future. Will you need extra space for a home office, a child, or maybe a child moving back home? Perhaps it might be easier and less expensive to purchase a home that can meet these needs now, rather than moving up to a larger home a few years down the road. 

#11 Proceed Quickly

close the deal quickly

When you’re ready to buy, act.  Good properties sell.  This is especially true given the current state of most real estate markets. However, when you work with a Realtor®, you have access to the latest technology. 

#12 Clarify Relationships

establish a relationship

In any real estate transaction, be very clear about who is working for whom, and what the relationship represents. Get a buyer’s agent on your side. We have six agents that work ONLY with you. 

#13 Ask for a Written Buyers CMA 

ask for your cma

A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is an analysis of comparable homes in a given neighborhood. It shows you the sale prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood, along with asking prices of other homes in the area currently on the market. A Realtor® can request this report.

#14 Get It in Writing 

get it in writing

Legally, sellers must disclose all known material defects of a property. Ask for this in writing. Also be sure to consider the ramifications of these defects. Will they be costly down the road? Are they “serious” defects?

Still Have Questions About Buying a Home in Ann Arbor?

Buying a home can seem overwhelming—and that's why we're here to help! Contact The Missy Caulk Team today to learn more about the buying a home in Ann Arbor, the communities of Washtenaw County, or to start searching homes for sale in Ann Arbor! We would love to answer all your homebuying questions!

Buying your first home? Learn more about the First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit.

Washtenaw County Real Estate Resources