Buying a house can be a wonderful adventure, like a grown-up version of an obstacle course or scavenger hunt with a great prize waiting for you at the end. But if you set off on your adventure before you are really prepared for the challenges you will face, you may end up feeling more frustrated than exhilarated. Like all good grown-up games, it’s a huge help to understand the rules, and develop a strategy, before you start playing. It’s an old real estate joke that the three most important things when buying a house are location, location, and location, but I think it’s easier to start off by thinking about “where, what, and how much.”
The Phoenix metropolitan area is huge – over 1,000 square miles – and it is simply not possible to look at every house that comes up for sale, or even every neighborhood. Most buyers find that an important part of the process is narrowing the geographic range of your search. Do you want to be close to work or family, or in a certain school district, or near a freeway? Do you want an established neighborhood in the center of town, or do you prefer a new-build community more on the outskirts? Do you want mountain views? Tossing around questions like these can give you a good head start by allowing you to focus on the areas that are most likely to meet your needs. If you need information about different areas, try these links.
You will also want to give some thought to the features you are looking for in a home (and if location isn’t a big factor for you, this can become the #1 priority). Are you looking to upsize or downsize? Is there a particular number of bedrooms you need? Pool or no pool? Single story or multi-level? The list of potential home features is unending, but talking about this ahead of time will help you understand what things are deal-breakers, and which don’t matter that much to you. Try to concentrate on the 3 or 4 most important factors – you can always expand the list later on, but for most buyers the right house usually ends up being the one that “feels right”, not one that matches an endless checklist of features. If you want to get a quick idea of what type of homes are available right now, check out the MLS Database.
The final question is how much house you can afford. Many buyers make the mistake of beginning their search without getting a good idea of their price range. If you start touring homes that are above your actual range, you may be disappointed by the homes you can really afford; on the other hand, if you under-estimate your range, you may be discouraged by the homes you initially see, and give up your search prematurely. Getting loan information from a reputable lender is free, carries no obligations, and more than that it is a critical step in determining the success of your house-hunting adventure, so make sure you take care of this at the beginning of the process. Click here to get contact info for Lucas Mortgage Funding.
Once you have covered “where, what, and how much” you are ready to begin house-hunting in earnest. For additional details on the buying process, try browsing the ERA Answers Book. And if thinking about all this makes your brain hurt, or if you just feel more confused than ever, don’t despair: just take a few moments to get in touch with Ken, and he can walk you through the whole program from soup to nuts. He’ll even do it with a smile. And one hand tied behind his back.
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