It’s early in the year, but you’ve already decided that you want to buy your first home or upgrade to a new one in 2020. January is the best time to kick things off—well before you suddenly find your dream home and discover that you’re wildly unprepared to make it happen.
Inventory is still low in January and February, and it’s a great time to get your ducks in order. Here are five ways you can pave the way to a successful purchase:
1. Get a grip on your financials. This is an excellent time of year to take stock of current incomes, projected bonuses, all assets, and how much cash you’ll have for a down payment.
2. Decide what your priorities are. Are you more about having a place to hang your hat in between work and travel? Will you need parking? Will you need space for future children, pets, or frequent guests? Will you be unhappy if your current commute ends up taking twice as long? Take stock of your lifestyle and list out your absolute must haves.
3. What do you want your next neighborhood to offer? This can range from a desire to walk everywhere, to a burning need to have a large garage and yard. Those types of features will drive your short list of potential neighborhoods.
4. Consult with a lender or mortgage broker. Knowing what you’ll be able to afford will put the finishing touches on your search. There’s no point in visiting a series of condos listed for $1.5M if you end up being preapproved for a purchase with a max of $1.2M. Once you know your price range, you can back into what property types and neighborhoods will be workable.
5. Consult with a Realtor. What you ultimately want to do is get a sense from your Realtor about areas and homes that would be affordable for you. It’s also a good time to discuss the market and what you can expect when you make an offer. A Realtor will be able to recommend additional lender possibilities for you, as well, so you can shop around before you’re ready to make an offer.