Considering buying a home?  Maybe it’s your first home purchase, maybe you’re upgrading or downsizing from your current home.  No matter how many times you’ve done this before, here are some essential steps that will make the process as smooth as possible.

Get your finances in order.

Start by getting a full picture of your credit story. Talk to a lender, either one you know or one recommended by someone you trust – maybe your realtor!?  Did you know that a lender running your credit in connection with possible mortgage financing may not affect your credit score per se?And taking a thorough look through your credit will give you a chance to confirm everything is accurate, possibly take some easy steps to raise your credit score and get truly comfortable with what your finance comfort zone really is.  And, since you’ll need a lender preapproval letter to support your offer when you’re ready to make it, why wait?

Get to know your what you want.

Knowing what you want goes way beyond bedroom count and how big the backyard should be.  Once you know what your financial comfort zone is, you need to get to know the market in which you want to concentrate your search.  Maybe you don’t even know for sure which town or towns are your top choices.  Spend time getting to know the towns and areas you’re considering.  Have your realtor take you on a tour – see the train stations, the best spots for brunch, the schools, the parks.  And see a sampling of houses.  Every house you see will help you understand the market and what you really want or don’t want in your next home.

Hire a professional.

These days, the internet gives you access to a lot of information, some of it accurate, some of it less so.  But no amount of websurfing will take the place of walking through every house and first hand knowledge of the towns.  That’s why I go to the realtor open houses every week, looking at the houses with my buyers’ needs in mind and reporting back.   Knowing the intricacies of the market, timing of bids, what to watch for in inspection, are also all things you cannot get from the internet. And, when you consider that, as a buyer, you get your agent’s expertise, experience and guidance for FREE (yes, in NJ, the seller generally pays the agents’ commissions), why wouldn’t you use a professional??

Do your homework.

The bidding process is different, sometimes very different, from one local area to another.  As a realtor, it’s my job to prepare you for the process from bidding through closing.  It’s also my job to make sure my buyers are fully aware of all the options available to them to make their offer as competitive as possible. The more prepared for the process you are beforehand, the more likely you are to succeed, from bidding, to the inspection and, ultimately, at the closing table.

Think long term.

Whether you’re buying your “forever” home or a “starter”, you’re likely going to be there for a while. From inspector, to help you get to know your house, to contractors to paint and do updates after you close, to service companies to help maintain your home going forward, I’ll help you find the right people for the job.  A house is an investment and you’ll need the right professionals to protect that investment!