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Make a plan before you shop


Lay out schedule, take lots of notes

The holidays are fast becoming a distant memory as life begins to get back on track and the phrase “back to reality” gets tossed around like salad.

You’ve decided that this is the year you’re ready to buy a new home. To help you ensure that this year you keep that resolution, here are a few tips to guide you.

The most important thing to understand is that buying a home is like any other goal — you need a plan to accomplish it. This plan starts with money. Make sure you know exactly what you can comfortably afford. That way, when you begin hunting you don’t need to concern yourself with preliminary questions like whether you can afford it. When I help my friends and clients tackle the numbers, I ensure they walk away with not only their purchase price but exactly how much they’ll be spending out of each paycheque and, consequently, how much they’ll be saving. That’s the kind of breakdown you want.

Next step is to determine a time line. If you’re renting, or if you have kids, or if you’re planning a vacation, your timeline will be very important. Or you may just want to avoid the spring/ summer rush (quite possibly a very wise decision). In any case, set out the date you’d like to move in, and work backwards from there.

Then, and only then, should you turn you attention to items like location, type of home, number of bedrooms and other needs and wants. This list should be conclusive and should be done with your family. A qualified Realtor can also help to fill in the gaps. Once you have this list you and your Realtor can work together to outline the choices available to you. It’s important to go through the advantages and disadvantages of every area, every type of home, and every feature that is available to you. That way, when you’re searching, you will stay focused and on track.

It’s also important to learn to take good notes while home shopping. Otherwise, after seeing 10 homes, you’ll have a hard time remembering why you liked the fourth one best, why you hated the sixth one even though it seems so perfect on paper, and if the eighth one had a dishwasher or not.

If there’s a new home in store for you in 2007, you’ll have a plan in store for it.

Best of luck, and happy hunting!

For help with your home buying plan for 2007, feel free to contact Amit at amitp@rogers.com.

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