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Mark’s Top Tips For Buyers

I understand that buying a home can be one of the most stressful things we go through in our lives…I’m a home owner too. You want to make sure that you’re paying a fair price for a great home that meets your needs. You want to know you’ll be happy in your new home for a long time. You don’t want any unpleasant or expensive surprises. What follows below are some suggestions that will help you accomplish each of these goals and ensure that your purchase goes as smoothly as possible. That’s my job as your trusted and dedicated realtor. Please call me when you’re ready to begin the search for your new home.

Use a Realtor – Call Mark Murakami

People sometimes think they can get a better deal if they can reach an agreement with a seller privately, removing a real estate agent’s commission from the calculations. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for. A good realtor will assist you with your search, ensure that your transaction goes as smoothly as possible and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that someone’s got your best interests at heart. S/he will provide professional guidance, knowledge about the areas you’re considering and details that non-residents could overlook, as well as a network of professionals who can help you through the process (home inspectors, lenders, insurance agents, etc.). A realtor will also help you pinpoint properties that best suit your needs, making the search much less cumbersome, so it is important to be clear about your priorities…things like the neighbourhoods you will consider and the amenities that matter the most to you.

Visit Your Bank For a Mortgage Pre-Approval

Being pre-approved for a mortgage is not the same thing as being pre-qualified. Being pre-qualified does not mean your bank will give you a mortgage, it just means you have had an initial meeting to discuss your desire to purchase a home. If you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, your lender has taken an in-depth look at your finances, has calculated how much you can afford to spend and how much they are willing to lend you for your purchase. It also gives your lender the opportunity to outline any conditions that you may have to meet, such as the required size of your down payment and/or closing costs, and any credit issues that may need to be resolved. A pre-approval will detect any credit problems (which people are sometimes unaware of) and give you the details you need to get the problem fixed before you’re rushing to meet a deadline. Not only will a pre-approval save you time and reduce the stress involved in your purchase, it will also give you the opportunity to negotiate the best rates and terms.

Budget For A Lifestyle

Just because your bank has pre-approved you for a mortgage of a certain dollar amount does not mean that you have to spend all of that money. It is important to run the numbers and try to determine what kind of a mortgage payment you can comfortably afford based on your lifestyle. Adjustments may have to be made to discretionary spending. Are you willing to give up that morning latte and your weekly dinner at the local restaurant so that you can afford the monthly payment on this new house? Shouldn’t you know ahead of time whether or not that could be necessary? Once you have an idea of a comfortable mortgage payment, you can work it backwards (with the help of your bank or your realtor) to determine what kind of a purchase price that corresponds to, and the ongoing additional costs that could be involved, such as property tax, utilities, etc.

Limit Spending In The Months Before You Plan To Buy

This tip goes hand in hand with getting that pre-approval from your lender. Your mortgage pre-approval is based on your income, savings and credit as it appears at the time of your application and is contingent on the information remaining more-or-less unchanged until such time as your purchase is finalized. Any substantial change in the months before you find that perfect house could potentially change the approval and work against you. It is wise to hold off on major purchases in the months before you plan to buy a home, because the financing for that new car you’ve had your eye on could make you ineligible for the financing you’d need to buy the house you’re going to find next month. Using your savings to pay for that trip down south could deplete the funds you’ll need for your down payment. Lenders need to be able to show that you qualify for the mortgage you’ve requested and they need to compile a complete paper trail so that they can get you the best loan possible. If you increase your debt load or spend your savings, you’re only making it harder for them to get you the approval you need.

Get To Know The Neighbourhood

You’re considering making one of the largest purchases of your lifetime…shouldn’t you know for certain that this house is in a neighbourhood that you’ll be happy in? Before you buy, get familiar with the lay of the land. Drive by the house at different times of the day so you can see what’s going on in the neighbourhood. Do a test-drive of your morning commute…can you live with it? How far is this new house from the local school? Or the closest grocery store? Is it in an area that will present problems when you’re ready to re-sell? Your realtor can help you determine the answer to many of these questions, but there are some things you’ll have to answer for yourself and you don’t want to decide there’s a problem after the deal has closed.

Try To Remove Emotion From The Transaction

It is harder than it sounds, but buying a house should be based on research and instinct, not emotion. Making a purchase based on an emotional response to a particular feature can be asking for financial trouble. Say, for example, that you buy a house because you love the backyard despite the fact that you have doubts about the neighbours. What will happen if the neighbours become a big enough issue that you stop using that backyard? Suddenly the value you initially saw in this property is no longer there. The underlying element of your purchase should be that you feel you’re buying a great property for a good value, not the fact that you love the flooring or the flower beds. Wallpaper can be removed and paint can be changed but location is permanent and repairing things like a roof or plumbing can be costly. This is an investment, so it is important to make a wise decision you can comfortably live with.