Large numbers of city dwellers opted to move to larger suburban homes during the pandemic. For many, it was like impulse buying. "I'll just look" sounds easy until you get caught up in a hot residential real estate market and find yourself closing a deal before you are truly ready. If you are shopping for a home and want to avoid buyer’s remorse, consider these key points:
1. Get prequalified for a mortgage before you shop. Don’t shake hands on a deal without having your financing in order. Prequalification also helps you understand what you can afford to pay so you are not enticed by a home outside your range.
2. Find a well-regarded real estate attorney. That person will be your advocate and take a lot of the negotiating burden and regulatory nonsense off your back.
3. Seek out a top-notch home inspector and go with the inspector on the date of the inspection. Observe. Ask questions. Look for water stains (water is like cancer for a home).
4. If anyone associated with the deal, such as the real estate broker, recommends inspectors or mortgage brokers or closing attorneys, check their references. In some situations, the broker is not really working for the buyer or the seller; they are an advocate for the sale itself and may refer mortgage brokers or inspectors who will help expedite that process to your detriment.
5. Do a careful assessment of how much more you need to invest to make the house into the home you’ve always wanted. This includes expenditures when you move in and in the years ahead. Are you prepared to spend an additional 20 to 30 percent of the purchase price on improvements? Assess the true cost first. If you see bulldozers at other homes in the community, try to find out the general level of improvements the other homeowners are putting into their home.
6. Before putting additional dollars into additions, determine what the average home price is in that community. You don’t want to outprice the market. That also may result in a property tax reassessment, which your neighbors will hate.
A home is one of the biggest purchases you will make in your lifetime. Don’t rush into it no matter how great the house seems and how much you want to get out of the city.