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Buying real estate should be enjoyable, but can be an emotional, time-consuming, and complex process. If you follow these tips it will help reduce the stress and make the process go as smooth as possible:
Get pre-approved with a lender if you will need a loan to purchase. The market is quite good currently and most sellers do not accept offers contingent on financing without a pre-approval letter attached. If cash, have a letter showing availability of funds from your bank or broker.
Define your monthly budget - Decide how much you want to spend not necessarily the max you were qualified for but what you can afford. This will help you define what price range to look in to find the property.
Find a great buyer's agent who will work with you. This agent works for you as opposed to the Seller’s agent who is under contract with the Seller to work for them. Using a sellers agent may save a little money but your best interest will then go by the wayside as they represent the Seller only!
Learn about the neighborhood or area - Based on your ideal criteria for a community, define the areas where you will look based on what is important for you.
Protect yourself - Ask your Realtor for a copy of the documents you will be asked to sign if you decide to buy the house. Read them ahead of time so that you'll understand the questions that you will be asked, the things you need to know, and the decisions you will need to make. This will make the process a less stressful, smooth home purchase since you will already know the contract that is being filled out.
Have reasonable expectations - Understand what is going on in the current market, and realize that no house is perfect. Understanding and remembering those two points will help diffuse the negotiation stage, the inspection stage and the closing stage.
Do not try to negotiate to the penny! - Negotiatiion is critical, but if you can get a fairly good deal, do not try to squeeze every penny out of a seller. The process could cause other items which are important to you to falter, or a seller to become angry and not want to deal with you. Your Buyer's Agent can help you identify that fine line.