Purchasing a home (condo or house) is most often the single largest investment a person/family makes, so it only makes good sense to treat it with respect and dedication. Like all sure footed journeys, this one can only be done one way — step by step.
First, establish your needs. While wants can change your needs will remain the same so it’s important to know your main objective(s) for buying. If your main need is to be close to work, you’ve already made things a little less complex. If it’s to make money off the purchase, again, you’ve significantly focused your search.
Next, sort out your finances. What’s the sense in viewing a condo if you’re not 100 per cent confident you can afford it? The first thing I provide my clients is a financial assessment of their costs, interest, principal, with various down payments on various purchase prices, so that they’re aware. When you’re viewing a unit, there’s enough to focus on without wondering whether you can afford it — if you can’t you shouldn’t be there to begin with, and the worst thing that can happen is to get your heart set on a place that turns out to be outside your comfort zone.
The next factor most buyers consider is where’s the best location? When you’re buying a home for yourself the question of best location boils down to what best covers your needs. A person seeking convenience vs. a person seeking investment dollar will have different “best location” answers. See as many as you have time for, that suit your needs, and you’ll find the best one for you.
Buyers also wonder when’s the best time to buy? Statistically prices are higher during the spring/summer and lower in the winter. However, good properties will sell for what they’re worth, always. There’s more product available during high season, more comparables to use for price reduction, and people can be desperate to sell regardless of the season. The best time to buy is when you’d like to move.
When you’re ready to start looking, chances are you’ll think about buying new vs. buying resale. The most important thing here is to compare apples with apples, so make sure you’re aware of all the closing costs in both cases to make your comparisons accurate, along with all the differences between closing procedures.
Now, when you’re actually viewing homes please make sure you’re taking notes! I can’t stress this fact enough. When you’re deciding which of the ones you’ve seen was best, it can be quite frustrating trying to remember which one didn’t have a dishwasher and which one had that wall requiring paint. Also, make notes on the items you’ll be spending money on if you move in (necessary paint job, hardwood floors, new tiles to replace cracked ones). Again, we do this so that we can eventually compare apples to apples, before deciding which home fits us best.
When you’re ready to compare, the notes will help you balance the prices. A home that costs $5,000 more that you thought was too expensive might end up being comparable because it requires no work to be done. Determine your top three choices. Always remember that we’re trying to find the home that suits our existing lifestyle best, and not the other way around.
How to get that best deal: First you must know what it’s actually worth. I always recommend that buyers work with a realtor (one you can trust who comes highly recommended from a trustworthy source) because it doesn’t cost them anything — even the financial assessment should be free. That’s the first step.
Finally, take it from me, the really good properties/deals vanish quick, even in this market, and few come up — but they do come up. That’s where this whole process pays off. If you’re focused and aware of your needs, finances, and have notes on others you’ve seen, and are an established buyer, moving quickly can be moving intelligently, rather than blindly.
– Amit is a Realtor/Developer with Re/Max. firstname.lastname@example.org