Do's and don'ts
Don’t discuss your journey specifics on social media. Sellers can see the info and it could be used against you.
Don’t take on any new debt before or during your home-buying process.
Don’t spend too much time on algorithm-based valuations versus local experts.
Don’t be of the mindset that you’ll make the money when you sell. “You make your money in real estate when you buy, not when you sell.” Buy wisely.
Do make sure that your most recent taxes are complete or ready to be complete
Do begin and get as far through the financing legwork as you can. A buyer who is simply awaiting an appraisal and final verifications will always have a leg up.
Do hire a broker who understands the importance of establishing relationships with brokers on your behalf. Do they know how to communicate in many different ways?
Do have your general ideas of what you want but let your realtor take you out to other ideas that may also be of interest – especially if you are on the newer side of residency.
Do have a list of your must-haves, your negotiables and your non-negotiables. These will change during the process but staying focused, at least at the beginning of your truest desires, is key to the long-term success of the investment.
Do be conscientious of your timeframe. If you plan to be in the home short-term, look at how quickly your down payment could be absorbed by a market value decrease. If you put 3.5 percent down, what happens if your market falls 5 percent? Much safer if you plan to be in the home for 10 years instead of two.
Best ways to save money
Sweat equity can mean long-term gains. Be conscientious of the timeframe though. We are entering a cooling in the market. Are you looking to make your money in 2, 3, 5 years?
Be open to your areas. Really focus on what is important to you today and what could be important to you in 3-5 years. Will you care as much about the walkability and prefer a larger lot? If you’re looking at condos, which amenities are really worth it to you to pay for in your HOA?
Choose a lender who is able to present you with multiple options. If you need more cash for rehab, is accepting a higher interest rate in lieu of cash at closing or “closing costs” worth it to you?
Look at your lot and it’s zoning. Is it zoned for an ADU? Could you build one and create a secondary source of income on your own home?
How much to put down
The first question any buyers should ask themselves is how much do they feel comfortable paying for their mortgage. Start there and not at the house price. Build your comfort zone in pricing around that number so you don’t dangle the carrot in front of your own nose.
Do you qualify for VA? Use your benefits!
Know that anything less than 20 percent down requires mortgage insurance. That is an add-on to your base mortgage, so weigh the benefits that this added cost would mean to you versus putting more down if you can.