It is important to start from the big picture and finalize with the small one. The first thing to consider is general locations. Where in the city do you want to buy? In the same area where you live now or somewhere else? Once you pick the general area it is time to start your research, you must look into the availability of schools, and how close is the nearest hospital, the supermarket, your place of work and things like this. Consider and compare these against your actual location and decided if it is convenient to you. If it isn’t, try another location and continue until you have found the perfect place.
Now do a realtor search, find someone who is well-known and has an established reputation and a physical office with a secretary and all. Make a list of a few and visit their offices, talk with them without committing to contracting them. Let them know that you are shopping for someone who can help you find a house. Realtors can be pushy; they live of the commissions they make so they can be stubborn. If you do not feel comfortable with the person, walk away, looking for a house is stressful enough without having to do it with someone you do not like or feel uncomfortable with. With the list, pick the one you feel better with and has the best sales record.
When signing the contract with the realtor make sure that it does not give him too much exclusivity time to find your house. If he can’t do it within three weeks, he won’t be able to do it. So do not sign the contract if it asks for more than thirty days exclusivity. Also make sure the commission is within the law and make an effort to reduce it some. As usual take a good look at the fine print and ask any questions you have. If you feel it is necessary have your personal attorney look at it and approve your signature. With this done, let us get to the nitty-gritty.
This is a family matter so all the family should be involved. You need to get a general idea of exactly what you want your house to have. This would include the number of bedrooms, a patio, a front yard, one or two floors, a den, this kind of things. We are looking for a general idea not for an exact house plan. When doing this do not think about today, think about tomorrow. One day the children will grow up and leave and you will be left with a huge empty house. Think about something comfortable but also practical.
Now it is time for the hard part, this is not for a family meeting; this is between husband and wife. Sit together and look at your numbers, how much are you able to spend on your dream house without going overboard. If you are going to borrow the money you must do the math and come up with a monthly amount you can comfortably pay. Do not forget to leave a reasonable amount aside in case of an emergency or a vacation once in a while. Remember buying a new house should give you happiness not a burden. Be reasonable and look at the numbers, do not take into account a possible raise, inheritance or the lotto. Work only with what you have in hand now. If you are going to borrow the money from your bank, see your banker and have him give you the amount and conditions the bank will allow you. Using your personal numbers to determine how much you are comfortably able to pay the bank each month choose the amount you will borrow and how much time you want to pay the loan. You do not necessarily have to accept twenty years or any other amount, if you can pay the loan back in ten years, go for it. The longer it takes the more money the bank will take from you in interests. Do not forget to negotiate the interest rate and get it all in writing from the banker.
Now it is time for your chosen realtor to work. Give him the location, general needs and the distribution plus the amount you are able or willing to spend on it. Give him some time to find several houses that come close to what you want. We are back to the complete family again, set up an appointment to visit the properties; on a Saturday if possible, that way everyone can come and have their say. Do not, repeat, do not get excited about any of the properties even if you are looking at the perfect house for you. Look around, ask questions, look at everything again and ask to see the next property. When the tour of all the houses is finished, tell him you are not sure and would like to see some more houses as soon as possible. Do the same with the next set of houses.
Call a family meeting and discuss the pros and cons of each house. Take notes on the points mentioned by everyone, you will all be living there so a close vote would be fantastic when the decision is finally made. All the above mentioned points must be discussed to reach a decision, they are all important. Do not include money in this, just the house itself and the location, they so not need to know. After listening to everyone’s opinion we are back to husband and wife, it is up to you to weigh all the information for a final decision. See, that was easy, now it is time to make an offer and proceed to the closing and moving into your new home.