Buying a home can be overwhelming on so many levels. So many options. So many questions, and the pressure is often on to decide quickly or lose the home.

I often hear, “Is this the right location? What renovations could we do and how much will they cost? Will this home appreciate to exceed those improvements or additions? Are the schools good? What is my commute time going to be?”

A necessary place to start is to create your home purchase budget. By working with a mortgage lender, you will be able to assess your monthly budget and what you can afford while becoming pre-qualified for a loan in the process of doing so. You’ll need a pre-qualification letter to submit with a contract offer.

Secondly, create your “must have” list that might include type of flooring, number of bedrooms, lot size, walkable community, window light, big kitchen, garage, desirable drive time to the office and so on.

It’s easy to fall in love with a home’s offerings, but stick to your budget and be sure to keep a stash for emergencies to cover maintenance, repairs or that tree branch that needs to come down.  

And finally, select a real estate agent who keeps your budget top of mind. Ask for references.

Negotiation is a skill that separates the good from the best agents. Pick a partner who can guide and advice you through contract offer contingencies such as inspections, is a skilled negotiator and consistently cares for your best interest.

The fall market is very active with new listings coming on every day. It’s a good time to make the leap if you and your dog have been thinking about it.

Guest post and photo from Melinda Schnare, a real estate agent with RLAH Real Estate.

Mike Diegel