What to Expect When Buying a Home in 2021

Roxanne Hale

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Are you planning to purchase a home this year? If it’s your very first time, you may be wondering what you can expect.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve helped thousands of people buy a home. Whether they were building a new home, investing in rentals, or simply buying a home they could move right into, I’ve helped countless families and individuals as they decide to own.

Here’s what you can expect when you start house shopping and can do to make sure to choose one that fits your needs and style.

1. Give up on perfection.

Your new home will be amazing – but it won’t be perfect. Picking a home is like picking a mate. Your mate may have lots of great attributes right alongside some downsides, but you love them anyway. Your new digs could quite possibly check almost all your boxes but have one or two things you wished were different. Compromises are part of house hunting. If you find a home with about 80% exactly what you are looking for, you may have found your next address!

2. Shop with your needs in mind.

Looking at houses is interesting and fun. Once you get started shopping for homes, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole looking and forget what is really important to you. It’s okay to change your mind; make sure the one you fall in love with fits your practical and financial requirements too.

3. Start working with a lender early in the process.

In today’s competitive market, buyers need to get preapproved before they start house hunting. Having a mortgage broker give you parameters for your home purchase gives you confidence while shopping. It’s also helpful to know how price equates to payments and what type of down payment and closing costs you can expect. If you are looking at tricky purchases, like buying land, investment properties, homes that need renovations, or seeking a construction loan to build, you should definitely connect with a lender as soon as you decide to start shopping.

4. Evaluate the home carefully.

In most cases, you’ll begin your home shopping by going on showing appointments with your real estate agent. While you want to check out the layout and finishes, you also need to investigate the home’s mechanical systems. What are the ages of the heating & air system and hot water heater? How old is the roof? Are there signs of water damage or water intrusion around the home? Does the home have qualities that may make owning it expensive, like a pool or barns and acreage? Are you ok with that? Outside of normal maintenance, will it require a lot of upkeep? Older homes have loads of charm but also demand more diligent care. Whatever you do - don’t forget to get a home inspection!

5. Be realistic with your offer.

Everyone gets anxious when making an offer. It’s good to put your strongest offer forward and hope for the best in a competitive market. Often, however - for all kinds of reasons - offers don’t work out. Sellers choose another one, or the parties can’t come together on the terms. Once you are under contract, depending on your contract terms, you still may not end up buying the home. If the inspection doesn’t live up to expectations or the loan isn’t approved, you may not close on the home.

Take-a-ways

Get prepared by getting prequalified. Stay flexible and take your time finding just the right type of property that fits your needs. Once you find it, spend time doing proper due diligence or inspection on the home to ensure it will live up to your expectations.

Shopping for your very first home is a special experience! Like finding your first love or purchasing your first car, buying your very first home is an experience that will stay with you no matter where life takes you.

Happy Shopping!

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Roxanne Hale, owner, and broker of Arthouse has spent over 20 years in the real estate business. Here you'll find a collection of stories about buying and selling real estate & home building advice, housing history, and architecture & design tips. Oh, and some fun personal stories every now and then!

Homewood, AL
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