Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.

Get your finances in order.

Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you find.

Equip yourself.

Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-approved for a loan. Realtors are a great resource in recommending reputable ones if you need help in finding one. Getting a pre-approval puts you within the boundaries of homes that you can afford. This spares you, as the buyer, from making the crucial mistake of pursuing homes that turn out to be beyond the limits of the loan. This can easily translate to weeks or months of valuable time and money wasted; with real opportunities being missed.

In the fast-paced and highly competitive market of New York where bidding wars have become a common trend, it is no longer unusual to come across sellers who may want a copy of the pre-approval letters or proof of funds (in the case of all-cash buyers) submitted prior to entertaining showing requests.

Find a house you can afford.

As with engagement rings, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home: two-and-a-half times your annual salary. There are also a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, etc.

Do your homework.

Before making a bid, do some research to determine the state of the market at large. Is it more favorable for sellers or buyers? Next, look at sales trends of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Look at prices for the last few months. Come up with an asking price that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller.

Hire a professional.

While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better off using a professional agent than going at it alone. Recruiting an exclusive buyer agent will provide you with an expert in the industry who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process and beyond. 

Hiring your own agent will take much of the load off your shoulders as you navigate through the process, which may surprise you with unexpected twists and turns that you are not familiar with.

When it comes to the house itself, make sure to get a good home inspector who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.  Don’t know anyone? Your Realtor should be able to recommend reliable inspectors whom he/she has had satisfactory experiences with.

In New York, you will also need to hire a Real Estate atty. to prepare and customize your contract in order to protect your rights and finances.  Feel free to reach out to your Realtor for some recommendations as it is essential that you choose the right attorney who will not only protect your interests, but also ensure a timely closing.