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A New Home in the New Year? 5 ways to start planning now!

In early January, many of us are planning and setting goals for everything we want to do and achieve in the year to come. While many people think of spring as the primetime home buying season, the winter months often offer an even greater selection, and the opportunity to settle into the new home before warmer months arrive. If buying a house is on your “to do” list this year, now is also the time to begin preparing. Get on track to reach your home buying resolution with these tips:

Select a qualified and trusted real estate agent

Researching on your own is important, and using free online tools is a great way to start, but meeting with an agent will ensure you don’t miss any important steps along the way. Ask family and friends for recommendations; it’s important to select someone with whom you feel comfortable (since you’ll be spending a lot of time with them) and who knows the area where you want to buy. Agents understand the local market and can help you find all the information and resources you need to get started. And when the time comes, a Realtor can develop a negotiation strategy to help make your purchase offer stand out among any others.

Identify your “needs” vs. “wants”

Easier said than done, right? But it’s next to impossible to find a first home with everything. You’ll need to think about your lifestyle needs and prioritize the non-negotiable home accommodations, such as a bedroom for each family member, over items you may want, but not need, such as a large master suite. Everyone’s list is different, but knowing your “must-haves” in advance will help you stay focused.

Declare the perfect “location, location, location”

Everyone has heard this phrase before, and while the surrounding neighborhood and home itself may improve over time, the physical location will remain the same. Determine in advance how close you would like to live to work, schools or extended family. A short commute to work, proximity to family or having easy access to highways and mass transit will often be items for your “must-haves” list.

Determine your budget

Be realistic about what you can afford. When determing your final budget, be aware of other costs associated with homeownsership like the down payment, taxes, insurance, association fees and utilities. An agent can help you find comparable home prices and give you an estimate on approximately how much your payments would be.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

When looking at homes, a pre-approval letter can be a great tool with which to impress sellers. More importantly, it shows you have the backing of a lender to go through with a deal. Having that kind of support could even give you additional leverage when negotiating the final price of a home. The mortgage experts at your credit union will help guide you through the mortgage application and closing process. They’ll explain what your loan options are and the estimated costs of your purchase. >>Get pre-approved today!

Buying a home can be challenging, and only you can decide whether now is the best time for you. But if you are in the market to buy a home, 2018 is a great time to start looking.

Share what you’re doing to get the home search process started in the comments.

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