Planning Your Search – Top Tips for Home Seekers

Before beginning the search for your perfect new home, there are a number of steps that you should take to get ready for the process ahead. Savvy shoppers will be ready to act when they find the perfect place for them, so being prepared is key to securing the home of your dreams. Here are a few things to keep in mind and consider before starting your search.

Helena Dream HomeMortgage Preapproval

A first step in any home shopping process should be to consult with your bank, credit union or any other agency that you intend to apply to for your home loan. A financial representative from these organizations can work with you to get all the paperwork necessary to receive a mortgage preapproval. This process is similar to the ultimate mortgage process, and involves supplying all of your financial information, reviewing your credit score and receiving full proof of income. Experts recommend doing this only if you’re nearly positive that you intend to make an offer to buy within 90 days, as the preapproval has a limited period that it is valid for and will register as an inquiry on your credit history. If you’d like to just confirm that you meet the requirements, some institutions offer prequalification – check with your specific lender for more information.

Price Point

As part of the preapproval process, you should find out the dollar amount of your approval. This will help drive how much home you can afford. While oftentimes there is some room for negotiation with a home purchase, if you were approved for up to $100,000, looking at homes in the $150,000 range is likely a waste of time for both you and the seller. Knowing how much you can afford can also give you a bit of flexibility on the lower end as well. Assuming the same approval amount, if you see a beautiful home that is in need of some serious updating or repairs at $80,000, you may be able to make a competitive offer and still have money left over in your loan to make desired renovations. This may vary depending on the terms and conditions of your loan, so confirm with your lender what restrictions may be in place for your specific situation.

Musts Versus Wants

Going into the search, you may also have a vision in your mind of the perfect home – a sprawling kitchen with an island sink, an adjoining bathroom suite off the master bedroom, or perhaps three extra rooms for your children. However, homes on the market may not fit perfectly with your vision of the dream home. Before you start looking at properties, put together a list of your desires and narrow it down to what are “must have” and what are “want to have” elements. When you are considering different properties, keep the list in mind to help drive you decision. One last thing – if a home doesn’t have exactly what you’re looking for, later renovations or expansions may be an option. If a home is a close to perfect fit, consider making additions or changes down the road to turn a potential property into perfection.

Log Home HelenaLocation

Lastly, while some elements can be added or changed at a home after you’ve purchased, where the home is physically located cannot. Location, location, location – it’s much more than just a slogan. Your home’s location will dictate things like how long of a commute you have to work, how far you are from entertainment or shopping, and how secluded your home is by comparison to neighbors. Selecting the location that works best for you is incredibly important – think about what is the most important factor for you in your home’s location, and make sure that your prospective property works well for you before putting in your purchase offer.

The Senecal Real Estate Team can help you weigh the options on the market that meet your price point, your desired features and your ideal location. We can help finding properties perfect for raising and training horses, retiring and relaxing in secluded serenity or raising or starting a family. Whatever you’re looking for, we can help. For more information, or to set up an initial consultation, contact us today.

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