Now’s the Time to Prepare To Be A Spring Market Homebuyer

CHESTER, N.J. (Dec. 22, 2012) — The winter holiday season gets many people thinking how nice it would be to gather the family in a home of their own. If that describes you, now is the time to start thinking about making that dream a reality in the coming months.

The winter months are a good time to prepare to become a homeowner when the spring market kicks off after Jan. 1. Here are five things to do over the next few months:

  •  Decide what you want.

If a new home is on your mind, you and whoever you’ll share that home with, should decide what you want. A small condo to get started? A large home with space for a large family and pets? A smaller home that requires less time to maintain? New home? Pre-owned home?

  •  What can you afford?

Dreams are nice, but eventually reality sets in. You’ll be required to put cash to put toward the purchase and the closing of your new home. You’ll borrow the rest of the money as a mortgage. Even if you’re not going to start looking until the spring, talking with a Realtor, a banker or your financial counselor now can help you get an idea of what you can afford.

  •  Are your finances in order?

Now is the time to check your credit reports and make sure your credit card bills, rent, car payments and other debts are up to date. This will be part of the conversation when you talk with a professional about how much home you can afford. Bluntly, your credit-worthiness is probably more important than how much money you have on hand, so be prepared to do some sprucing up of your financial condition if necessary.

  •  Start talking with a Realtor now.

You need to find a Realtor with whom you can be comfortable. First, you should know that Realtor and real estate salesperson aren’t interchangeable. A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors and adheres to that organization’s Code of Ethics. Second, you should know that there are seller’s agents and buyer’s agents. You need someone who is working for you, knows the area, understands financing and is ready to go to bat on your behalf. Check with your friends and the many different real estate Web sites. Call and interview agents.

In addition to counseling you on preparations to buy, your agent can start searching for the types of home you’re looking for and keep you informed about new listings as they come on the market.

  • Get pre-approved

Once your financial house in order, it’s time to talk again to your banker about getting pre-approved for a loan. This is an agreement to provide you with a mortgage up to a certain amount, assuming the home meets with the institution’s approval and nothing in your credit picture changes. It lets you know what you can look for and gives the seller a powerful incentive to work with you.

Now that you know what you want and what you can afford, you have a Realtor, and you’re preapproved, it’s time to start looking at homes! Good luck.

If your dream of a new home involves selling your old home, you’ll also need to spend these next few months getting ready to sell as well as buy. Your Realtor can help you determine what needs to be done to get ready for market. He or she can also help you understand your home’s market value.

You will, of course, want a seller’s agent to help you sell. While it could be the same person, seller’s agents understand the nuances of selling in this market and, again, have your interests at heart. Some agencies, like The Holmquist Team, offer you a team of agents, each of whom has a specialized area of practice, including selling your home.

Owning your own home is a terrific investment and a wonderful feeling. This market presents an opportunity to buy that hasn’t been seen in generations. And gathering your family in your home at a special time underscores the wonderful feeling of being a homeowner.

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