Nashville Real Estate

Planning on Buying A Home in 2012?

Even with interest rates and home prices at all-time lows, many potential home buyers, especially first-timers, are on the sidelines. They’re concerned about the economy, their job, their savings, or their ability to actually get a loan.

But real estate is cyclical. If you look at the past 50 years, real estate has gone up and down. We’ve been in a down cycle for some time now — which followed many years of an up real estate market. It’s inevitable that buyers will gradually move off the sidelines and start making their way toward the end zone again.

If you plan on buying a home next year, or even in 2013, there are steps you can take now to get ready.

Start preparing to buy a home a year in advance

1. Start experimenting with online mortgage tools and online listings.

When to do it: Anytime.

To figure out how much you can afford, go online and enter down payment and purchase amounts into a mortgage calculator. This is a great first step. But it’s just that: a first step.

2. Engage a local real estate agent

When to do it: As much as a year before you plan to buy.

A good agent would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you months, even a year, before you’re really ready to make a move. In this meeting, learn as much as possible about your local market. Is it currently a buyers’ or sellers’ market? What’s the inventory like? How long should you expect to look for a home in your desired area? What are the local trends? Many people hear about national trends and statistics. But real estate is local, even down to neighborhoods and blocks.

3. Analyze your financial situation with a mortgage professional

When to do it: Soon after you’ve chosen your agent.

What you can afford will likely dictate the type of home you buy (condo or house, fixer upper or a gut renovation) and where you buy (prime school district or the up-and-coming neighborhood). But, before you start dreaming about your fancy new digs, you have some important financial analysis to do.  Analyzing your complete financial picture will reveal a lot as you consider home ownership.

4. Ask yourself the hard questions and do your financial homework

When to do it: After you’ve been pre-approved.

Once you’ve gone through the approval process, you know where you stand. Some people will be in great shape and ready to start shopping tomorrow.  Others may need to save more money, fix their credit score, or hold off until they get that much anticipated raise next year.

5. Re-engage your real estate agent

When to do  it: Once you are ready to buy

Once you have your financial situation figured out, it’s time to go back to your real estate agent. Let them know the result of your pre-approval process. You will likely need a pre-approval letter in order to write an offer on a home.

In short order, you should get up to speed with what you can get for the money and where — right down to the streets and blocks. To be an educated buyer, you need to see as many properties as possible. This is important to understand the housing stock and to know what you get for the money as well as what you like and don’t like.

Once you’ve gone through these steps, you’ll know — sometimes immediately — when the right house comes along. And then, at last, you’ll be ready to make a wise, well-planned move.

For more details, read the full article written by Brendon DeSimone, REALTOR and real estate expert, based in San Francisco and New York.

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