7 Essential Tips for Preparing and Buying a New Home

How to Organize the Purchase of a New Home

Happy couple holding a key to their new house
Henglein and Steets/Cultura/Getty Images.

Buying a new home can be a lot of fun and challenging, too, especially if you have a short time within which to purchase or if you're buying in another city or another country. Use these tips as a guide to help you buy a new home.

Know your budget

This is the first thing you should do when considering the purchase of a new home. Be realistic and practical. If you're moving to another city or country, consider creating a new household budget that will take account of your new wage and the cost of living in your new town.

Consider how much you can afford on a mortgage, insurance, taxes and utilities. You should also include the cost of the move and any other relocation fees. This should all be put into a new budget. Also think about how much your current home will sell for and whether you can afford to take on a larger mortgage. Make sure you also set the maximum price you could afford which will give you some room to negotiate should you find the right home.

Secure a mortgage before you start looking

This might be common sense, but some people are in such a hurry to look at properties that they forget that a mortgage can take time to be approved. If you gain pre-approval, not only do you know your budget, but you can make an offer, knowing it's approved and possibly beat out other offers.

Make a list of features

Everyone in the household should make a list of their ideal home, keeping in mind the reality of what you can afford.

If you have children or teens, tell them what size of house you can afford and have them work within the size limit. After everyone makes their list of ideal features, have each person rank their priorities. What would you be willing to sacrifice to get something else? This is a great exercise to do whenever you're thinking of moving to a new space.

Not only will it give you a better idea of your needs, but by having children provide their input, they'll feel like a part of the move and decision-making process.

After everyone makes their list and priorities, discuss the list until you can come to a consensus of what's important for the family as a whole. Keep this list with you whenever you look at a house, whether online or in person. Give the list to your real estate agent, too. It'll help them find the perfect space for you.

Know the neighborhood

Once you know you're budget, now you should start looking at possible neighborhoods, checking out the real estate prices in each area. Know the local market. This will help you decide if you can afford a specific area. Choose a few neighborhoods that are within your price range. Check out the local schools and make sure each area will work for you. You may find yourself having to compromise on some things. That's okay. At this point, you should remain as flexible as possible while still keeping in mind your ideal location and home.

Secure a real estate agent

While this isn't always necessary, it'll help you narrow down possibilities. This is particularly true if you're moving to another city, state or country.

Having a local represent your interests is critical. They can also provide you with details about the neighborhood, schools and house prices in the area.

Create a list of questions

Before checking out properties, make a list of key questions you need answers to, in particular key features such as type of heating, age of furnace, cost of utilities (ask for actual bills from the utility companies), type and age of roofing, etc... It's also a good idea to view the property at different times of the day and evening. It's important to find out how busy the neighborhood is, in terms of traffic and noise. This may change depending on the time of day.

Take your time

If you have the time, take it. Don't rush into a purchase because you feel pressured to buy. Make sure you like the neighborhood. Check out the schools, the grocery stores, the restaurants and the parks.

Ask to see the home more than once. Talk to neighbors. Research housing prices in the area and the potential for future growth. If you're moving to another city or country, make sure you spend time in the new neighborhood, both day and night. Think about the things you love to do and make sure the area is conducive to do those things. Try to imagine living there and how it'll feel on a daily basis. What will your commute be like? Is the garden big enough? Are there other kids in the neighborhood? Is the street busy or quiet? Only you know what you need. Make sure the new home is right for you.