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Five Important Things to Know About Buying a House

A lot of money, thought and preparation go into acquiring real estate. Since it likely is not a purchase you make often, offers these tips to help guide you through the home-buying procedure and save you from some unnecessary stress in the process.

1. Know what you can afford before you start looking

Finding the ideal home would be easy if money weren’t an issue, but most people need to take their finances into account. In other words, don’t shop for real estate before you know what price range you can afford. An easy way to get your bearings is to enter your income, savings and other details into an online home-affordability calculator. Better yet, get a mortgage pre-approval letter; the process involves a lender checking out your finances and determining how much it’s willing to loan you for a home. Since your loan is guaranteed, it removes any possibility that you won’t secure financing.

2. Don’t call the listing agent

Buyers generally have their own agent, as do sellers. Ideally, the buyer’s and listing agents interact with each other, conveying their clients’ questions and concerns to see if a deal can be done. As such, contacting a listing agent directly can cause problems because it can imply that you don’t trust your agent, and that you and your agent don’t have a strong working relationship. These two things can impede negotiations.

3. Don’t talk around other agents

Buyers also can put their foot in their mouth during showings and open houses. Since the listing agent may be present, this is a time when loose lips can sink real estate deals. Sharing details on how many homes you’ve looked at, how much your dislike or like the house, and how much you can afford or are willing to spend on it can give the home sellers info they can use as leverage during negotiations. When in doubt, say nothing. Your agent should always be your voice at an open house or in any conversations with the sellers.

4. You don’t have to see every house in a 100-mile radius

You don’t have to look at hundreds of properties to find the right one. Your agent will screen properties for you and make sure you’re only looking at the ones that fit your needs.

5. Don’t let the commitment give you cold feet

Buying a house can be scary, and your mind might race with all sorts of worst-case scenarios. What if you make an offer on a house, and that very day another house—even more perfect for you—crosses your path? Or what if you move into a house you’re happy with, then a layoff leaves you unable to pay your mortgage? Sure, these are all possibilities, but don’t let them get in the way of making this important move. Remember, you can always sell a house later; this doesn’t have to be a death-’til-you-part endeavor.