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Buying a home is probably the most important investment you'll make, and the most expensive. It can be a painstaking process, full of uncertainties, or it can be extremely satisfying and productive. To prepare for the best possible result, you need be as fully informed as possible.
Stick to your budget.
First, understand what you can afford and stay within those parameters. If you're not sure how much you can comfortably pay each month, a broker or lender can help, or you can find the information online.
The tendency now, with interest rates low, is to borrow, borrow, borrow. There are many mortgage packages available that appear attractive, but may be more costly than wise. Be careful not to overextend.
Check the Neighborhood & Schools.
Try to narrow your search to a specific area or neighborhood. Otherwise, the task may become overwhelming and you'll find yourself just house looking, never house finding. Become thoroughly familiar with your neighborhood. Research the school district. Again, there are excellent tools online. Even if you don't have school-age children, a desirable school district is a valuable asset. Keep an open mind as to what you want, separating wants from needs. You want central air conditioning, but you need four bedrooms. If you're in a position to have it all, wonderful. If not, be flexible.
Know What It's Worth.
Comparison shop to be assured that an owner's asking price is reasonable for the area and for what's offered. Often, the difference between a reasonably priced house and one that's overpriced, is the motivation of the seller. If a seller has no where to go and is "in no hurry to sell," the asking price usually reflects that. Don't overpay and don't be rushed into making an offer. Go one step further. Get an appraisal from a Certified Real Estate Appraiser to help you make an informed offer and to make sure that you're not overpaying.
Good luck -- and remember, do your research.
Arleen E. Goscinski, ASA, New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser
New York City, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk New York Real Estate Appraisals
149 Ketay Drive South East Northport, NY 11731-5031