5 Crucial Elements You Need to See In A Home-Buying Guide

There are literally dozens of home-buying guides out there, but they’re not all created equal. When you’re overwhelmed with all the info, we’ll tell you what’s really important.

blue craftsman home at dusk
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Michael Calhoun


Jan 21, 2021

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In the digital age, there’s more information at our fingertips than ever before. We’ve all been living in this state of affairs for decades now, and it’s unanimously agreed that despite many of the huge benefits of all this increased accessibility, it can be daunting and confusing to navigate. When trying to find information about an important and complicated process like buying a house, knowing where to start and who to trust is a serious concern on the internet. Searching “how to buy a home” on Google returns a ridiculous 3.9 billion results, and it can be difficult to know what’s legitimate and what’s not if you don’t have an idea of what to look for. We’ve been in the real-estate business for over 60 years, working tirelessly to provide the most accurate and helpful information to our clients, and we know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’re doing independent research online and your guide isn’t showing you these things, time to move on.

Consult HER, REALTORS® for insightful real estate advice >

What To Look For

  1. Similar values
  2. Focus on the agent
  3. Advice for your price range
  4. Buying or renting
  5. Rational thought

1. Sharing Values

There’s different advice for families looking for forever-homes, versus investors wanting to make a profit.

Venn diagram with the intersection colored red
‍Credit Wikipedia

If you’re looking into buying a home, even if you’ve never sat down to really think about it, you probably have a very specific direction you want to pursue with your investigation. If you’re just out of college and you’re finally providing for yourself, you might be looking for something cheap and low-maintenance. You’re probably not interested in a fixer-upper that’s going to require dozens of hours of refurbishment, and unless you’re starting a family you probably don’t care about school districts (except for property taxes of course). If you’re looking to own properties to rent them out, there are very specific differences in owner-occupied versus non owner-occupied mortgage rates. These are crucial to keep in mind as you go about your research into your future home, and if you’re reading a guide that clearly doesn’t apply to what you’re looking for then it’s better to do a more refined search than to waste your time and possibly absorb some harmful advice. Just as it’s important to find a guide that’s right for you, you should also be learning about how to find the agent that fits your needs best.

2. Every Good Guide Knows Agents Are Key

Agents are crucial to the process of buying a home, and recognizing that importance is going to help your process immensely.

smiling man in suit with river behind him

Even if you’re adamant about doing your own research and becoming as knowledgeable as possible about the home-buying process, there will always be a reason to get a good agent on your side. They are invaluable assets in this process who can offer insights and advice that come from years of studying and understanding their specific communities, and they understand the bureaucracy of buying a home like the back of their hand. No matter what guide you’re thinking of listening to, they need to understand how a good agent that prioritizes their client’s satisfaction can make a key difference in what homes you end up investigating. Agents who understand your priorities and know enough about the community you’re interested in to find homes that will interest you will save you a great deal of time and energy, and they’ll keep your search manageable and realistic.

3. Be Budget Savvy

No one should buy a house if it will ruin them with debt, and acknowledging your price limit is key

coins stacked on top of paper currency

Buying a home isn’t all about money, but your finances are one of the fundamental aspects of how your real estate search is going to proceed. There are a couple different ways to approach knowing if a prospective house is within your budget range. Some guides suggest considering what other financial expenses you will want to spend money on besides a mortgage; others take a more numbers-oriented approach, and suggest only pursuing a home where you could comfortably pay 20% of the home’s value in cash as a downpayment. Another piece of advice is to make sure that the monthly expenses won’t exceed ⅓ of your income, and many guides suggest looking for homes that cost less than the most expensive house you’re expected to afford. Regardless of the specifics of the approach, you should be told that getting preapproved for a mortgage from a lender is an important step toward buying a home, because it is, and that it’s not worth buying a house if it will wreck the rest of your finances. As part of this process, you should also be told to check your credit score, so that you can consider what the interest rate on your mortgage might be and how that will affect what you can afford. To really entertain the prospect of buying a home, a good guide will also ask you to consider whether buying is even the right choice for you.

4. Consider If Renting Is An Option

For certain situations, buying a home isn’t always the smartest option, and thinking about this could make your life a lot easier

woman in suit biting pen while looking at tablet

Buying a home is an important dream for many people, and that’s not unreasonable in any way. It can become a problem though when people are encouraged to buy a home when they might not be financially ready to accept the responsibilities of owning a home, or other social and cultural factors in their lives could prohibit them from enjoying the home-owning experience the way they imagine they would. It’s important to consider the “hidden fees” of home-owning like maintenance and property taxes, and the resources you visit should emphasize how the financial burdens of owning a home aren’t appropriate for every stage of a person’s life. Especially when it’s advisable to hold onto a home for 10 years before selling it to mitigate the realtor fees, that kind of commitment is important to consider, and it’s worth exploring a resource that can ask you whether or not renting is the right option for you.

5. Stay Calm

As much as you might love your prospective home, you need to know when to move on

woman meditating next to water

As we’ve stressed through this whole piece, buying a home is a huge financial endeavor, but it’s important to acknowledge the human side of the transaction too. If you find the perfect home, it can be easy to rationalize getting into a brutal bidding war to defend your right to your dream house; any guide worth its salt will tell you that this is never worth it. Going above your maximum price range will spell disaster, and no house is worth your entire life’s savings. While bidding wars are not uncommon, make sure you’re made aware that it’s better to walk away with your finances intact than to make someone else rich by emptying your pockets. There will always be other houses, and you’ll find something right for you.

Buying a home can be an intense process, and it’s important to be as well-informed as possible before setting foot in the volatile world of real estate. We at HER want to make sure that no matter what approach works for you, you’re receiving the best quality information so you can make an informed decision that’s right for your life. With something as life-changing as buying a home, we ask you to absorb nothing less than the best advice.

July 23, 2018
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