Real Estate New Year’s Resolutions For Buyers

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Go to the gym. Renovate the kitchen. Quit smoking. Get a new job.

Most of us make new year’s resolutions—and who knows how many of us actually keep them. (I know I start at the gym every January, and by March, I’m back to Netflixin’ instead.) Resolutions aren’t the best idea—you should be making change whenever you want, not on a specific day of the year—but you’re more likely to commit to them if they’re realistic.

Maybe this year’s resolution should be in real estate?

If you’re looking to buy your first home next year, there are a bunch of resolutions you should make and stick to if you want to get a jump on the competition!

Fix your money problems

One of the main deterrents to buying a home is knowing that you have some financial problems looming over your head. This year, why not figure out your finances so you’re in a good place to jump into real estate?

The best first step is to find our your credit score. If you pull your score, which you can do for a small fee from Equifax or TransUnion, you may find your score is better than you think. If it’s above 680, you’re golden, and should be able to reach the best mortgage rates. If it’s below 600, you have some work to do before you can jump into the house hunt, (assuming you want to avoid high mortgage rates).

A lender just wants to know that you won’t default on your mortgage payments, so clear up anything that might give him pause. Pay down debts, pay bills on time, save for your down payment, and make all-around positive financial decisions this year. I know it’s easier said than done, but sitting down and writing up a budget is your best course of action. Reign in the latté spending and push for more consistent deposits into your savings, and you’ll be in a much better place financially at this point next year!

Do some research

If you’re wandering around real estate sites like Zoocasa.com already, you’re on the right track.

Even if you’re not ready to buy right this second, looking at homes is not a bad idea. Look in various neighbourhoods you’re interested in to find out pricing, so you don’t have unrealistic expectations when you are ready. Attend a few open houses too, to understand the process and find out what you should be looking for. (That’s also a good way to meet real estate agents!)

Remember to keep an open mind when looking at potential homes, either online or in person. If this is your first time looking, you may be set on one neighbourhood or a certain type of home. Be sure to expand your search to include places and ideas you hadn’t considered; some of the best purchases are homes you’d never expect to want.

Start the conversation with an agent

We’ve written before about how to find an agent and how to know you can trust your agent; it’s a good idea to start this process early, to have an ally in your corner from the very start.

Ask questions to the agent at open houses and find someone you’ll want to work with through this process. If you need to revamp your finances, find someone who is understanding of this, who can check in on you every few months and get to know your tastes and expectations. Even with you doing your research, a friendly agent is more experienced and will be able to find realistic homes for you to look at. The more the agent knows about you before you’re ready to buy, the faster you’ll be able to find exactly what you want in the future.

Flickr: Andrea Parrish-Geyer

About Jam Michael McDonald

Jam is a content editor based in Toronto. He's been the editor of a community newspaper, a national magazine, and two startups. Although he lives in a tiny condo, he uses every corner, and is an avid cheerleader of the compact home movement. You can find him every day on Twitter @mcjamdonald.

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