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Fayetteville, Clay, Camillus, Tully, and Syracuse metro area residents

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Buying a home is an important life milestone. The best way to prepare yourself is to be informed about the process. Here are some frequently asked questions to get you started.

1. Where Do I Start?

Before you begin house hunting, the best place to start is at your local bank. A mortgage professional can help with the pre-approval process and provide you with great resources. He or she can help you determine how much you can afford to help you set a realistic price range. First-time homebuyers are also eligible for special programs. The rules and regulations vary, so a professional will be able to find one perfect for you. They can also help you budget costs that come with owning a home. Lastly, a mortgage professional will help explain any confusing terms and give you advice on financing options.

2. Should I Buy or Rent?

Buying a home will always be an investment, but you need to be sure it’s worth your time and money. Consider the length you plan to stay in your next home. If you don’t plan to settle down, then renting may be a better option. Another factor is whether you are willing to take on the maintenance costs that come with owning your own home.

3. Should I Sell My Home Before I Buy a New One (and Vice Versa)?

There is no set-in-stone answer for this question. However, there are many pros, cons, and possible outcomes to consider.

If you sell your home before buying another, you are in a better place to negotiate the price of your new home. This is because it will be a sale without contingency restrictions. Sale contingencies mean that you must sell your house before buying a new one. If your house doesn’t sell within the allotted time, another buyer can swoop in and seal the deal before you ever get the chance. However, buying without a sale contingency, you do risk having to rent a place while you find a new home. Sometimes a “rent-back” can be negotiated, which would allow you to stay in the home for a couple of days after closing while paying the buyer’s mortgage. If you buy a home before selling, you will benefit from already having your home set in place.

4. Do I Need A Realtor?

Realtors are strongly recommended when it comes to purchasing a new home. A good realtor will have your best interest in mind when it comes to negotiating. They will act as your business partner, which is why you should interview several options before choosing. Look for someone experienced in buying and selling homes, as well as analyzing the current market and trends.

5. How Will I Know My Price Range?

Your price range will be determined by your income and financial obligations. You can either speak with a mortgage professional or find an online housing calculator for a rough estimate. It best to have a price range set in place before you start shopping. This will save you from the disillusionment of viewing homes outside your range.

6. How Many Homes Should I Tour Before Making an Offer?

This is completely up to you. Some people settle on their dream home within days, while others spend months visiting numerous homes before feeling certain. Regardless of how many you view, the best thing is to set a strategic plan. For example, spend your weekends zeroing in one neighborhood at a time. Make sure to inquire about schools, crime statistics, and taxes. When viewing homes, you should also ask about the average utility bill cost and the age of the roof, furnace, water heater, and air conditioning.

7. What Is Considered a Fair Offer?

After taking into account the square footage, the age of the house, and any upgrades, you will be able to determine an offer. The offer is up to your discretion, but you should consult with your realtor for an experienced opinion. Common practice suggests that knocking 5% of the list price is reasonable.

8. How Much Time Does the Seller Have to Respond?

Each offer will have a shelf life or “life of the offer.” However, there is no standard set amount of time. It can be anywhere from 12 hours to three or four days. Different situations can also affect the life of the offer, such as multiple offers or how long the house has been on the market. Consult with your realtor for a definitive answer.

10. Should I Get a Home Inspection?

Yes! An inspection is a very important part of the in the buying process. The inspection will allow you to determine the condition of major appliances and ensure that they are working properly. It will keep you from being blindsided by major defects after the sale. This will save you time, money, and repairs. This also allows room to negotiate if things are not up to your standards.

11. My Offer Has Been Accepted. Now What?

Congratulations on your new home! However, you aren’t done yet. There are many loose ends to tie up. First, do one final home inspection. It typically takes a month from the closing date to the moving date. Make sure that everything is still working properly. You will then need to complete a formal mortgage application as well as miscellaneous paperwork. Finally, provide your bank with any documentation they may need.

The home buying process may be a long, but doing your research will help things run smoothly. If you have other questions, be sure to bring them to your realtor. Happy home hunting!