When it comes to buying a home, everyone wants the best property they can find for the least amount of money possible. To make this seemingly impossible dream a reality, there are some steps you should take to get the best deal out there. Start by doing your homework and researching property values in the area, then time your move wisely. To learn more about the home buying secrets real estate pros know, we reached out to Mike Gabriel of Keller William Real Estate in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Here are his tried-and-true tips to get the best deal on a home.
1. Do your homework before you start looking at houses.
It might sound boring, but if you don’t know if you’re pre-approved for a mortgage and if you don't have your paperwork in order, you could miss out on a great house. “Usually everyone is all over a good deal, so you want to be prepared to make an offer quickly if necessary,” says Gabriel. This paperwork takes time, and if it isn't ready to go, you could miss the window of opportunity. "You also need to make sure you can afford the property to begin with, too!” Gabriel adds.
2. Consider buying a fixer upper.
If you’re young and looking for a first home, you might not want to go all-in on a more expensive, move-in-ready place. You can save a lot of money by looking at a house that has great bones but needs a superficial facelift. “Look at the potential and be willing to update that pink bathroom,” says Gabriel. Plus, remodeling the room may allow you to up the price even further when you eventually go to sell the property.
3. Look at the values of other properties in the area.
While you need to take the property values you see on real estate sites with a grain of salt, work with your agent to evaluate the prices in the area. “Check out pictures, look at materials and finishes in the home, think about lot size," recommends Gabriel. "Be really critical and take everything into consideration, because all of it impacts the price of the home." And remember: while it's not in an agent's best interest to overprice a house they want to sell, doing this research beforehand can help you negotiate a price.
4. Have your agent explain your offer.
After doing all that research, there is a reason why the price you decided on is what it is. Make sure that this reasoning is communicated to the seller. “I like to put a personal touch on the offer and write up a little something about how we landed on the number we did. You want to start a dialogue and not just go in with a blanket statement,” explains Gabriel.
5. Check how long the property has been on the market.
People usually want to sell their homes in a timely fashion, so it should raise a flag if a property has been on the market for six months to a year. “Have your agent call and see what’s up with the house," recommends Gabriel. “Don’t be afraid to make an offer, though! You want it to be fair, but when a house has been sitting that long, you never know what someone would be willing to take unless you ask.”
6. Look to buy in late fall or winter.
There are definitely more popular times of year to list or look for a home. Surprisingly, the spring market can start as early as right after Super Bowl Sunday. “Everyone is trying to buy in the spring, but the late fall is the most underrated time of year. You can find great properties because sellers are eager and want things wrapped up by the holidays," says Gabriel. Plus, many buyers aren't willing to move during the winter, so you'll have less competition.
7. Make sure you have good credit.
Mortgage companies will reward people with better credit. “Shop around and make sure you’re getting the best rates and packages for your unique situation. Look at roughly three different options," advises Gabriel. You'll also want to get the help of an experienced mortgage broker. “I tell my clients to have their credit in order (680 and above), employment history, and income ready to go.” If these factors aren’t in good standing, you could end up paying higher rates.
Originally published by Real Simple.