The first thing we did was familiarize ourselves with the areas that we liked the best. That way we could see what we liked in the right school district, the distance from the highway and work and the distance from amenities like shopping, restaurants etc. As far as determining what price range to look at we just went by what we were paying in rent then tried to stay in that area for mortgage payment along with taxes and insurance. Once we established all our criteria then we hit the internet on sites like realtyusa.com, realtor.com and timesunion.com.
I don't want this to sound overly simply..... we started looking at properties a couple years ago but didn't get really serious until about 3 months ago when we knew we were going to be due to sign another lease.
Through the websites we met a couple of realtors who showed us a number of properties over a matter of a couple years. If it was a nice place it was too expensive. If it was in the price range it was too small or in the wrong school district. There was always something that didn't quite fit. So after a couple years of doing the Goldilocks thing we decided to just wait. But I love looking at houses. I always have. So I continued to look with really no intention of buying anything right now until I came across a house that I thought would be perfect.... well at least I was curious to see if it would be perfect. So I talked my husband into looking at it. I called the real estate office and on the other end of the phone was Wayne. Personable, easy going, casual yet dedicated Wayne. He said he could take us to see the house within the hour so we met him there. And he was just as he was on the phone -- cool. I like this guy! The house though, not so much. It would have been a complete money pit. But that didn't deter Wayne from trying to find us something in our price range that would make everyone happy. He took us to a couple more houses, nope.... too small. Nope....needs too much work. Nope.... not for us. But with every house we saw he got more of an understanding of what we needed and wanted. And after he met the whole family he was able to zero in on the perfect house for us.
The best thing about working with a guy like Wayne is that since he has been in the real estate business for so long he knows all the ins and outs which is extremely helpful to novices like us who have never bought property in NY. He knows the right lawyer, the right inspector and the right lender to get things done quickly and smoothly. Which is great since buying a house can be a stressful experience. Although I always thought that it was fun, its the moving that's stressful.
From our experience I can list off a few tips that might make your next home purchase as easy and painless as ours was.
First of all, know what you like. By this I mean, do you want city or country living? Do you really need 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms or will less of a house do for you? Do you really need granite countertops and stainless steel appliances or is that something that you can maybe do down the road? What is the most important things to you -- move in ready or a fixer? Will you be willing to give up something for something else?
Next, once you know what you like then what are you willing to pay for it? We didn't want to go over what we pay in rent or it really wouldn't have been realistic for us if it was going to cost substantially more. If you have an idea of what payment you would like to be at then its easier to determine what price range to look at. Once you have an idea then get pre-qualified. When determining a payment don't forget you have to add in taxes and insurance along with utilities to what you will have to pay monthly.
I think its always better to start with high expectations. If you want it all, then why not at least look at it. You will come back to reality in a hurry. Get yourself a great agent like Wayne and make a wish list and go for it. But be willing to take some time to weed out the not so perfect houses in order to find the one that is just right for you.
When you do find the perfect one, then the fun begins. I'll discuss of the fun and games in my next post.