6 Home Buying Secrets the Pros Use

Home Buying Secret #1: Buy the house, not the staging

It's no secret that we're big fans of skillful, professional staging to help sell a home.

But the pros know that what you see when you're house hunting is just that: staging. Once you buy the home, it's yours to make your own.

That means that while pros might admire great paint colors, well positioned furniture, and artfully selected items in a room, they don't make their buying decisions based on that — and neither should you. Look at the house itself. Can you picture yourself happy and comfortable there, with your own furniture, your own decor, and your own living habits and preferences?

Make sure you're falling in the love with the house, not just the staging.

[bctt tweet=”Make sure you're falling in the love with the house, not just the staging. #homebuying”]

Home Buying Secret #2: Home ownership requires budgeting for “hidden” costs

For many home buyers moving from renting to home ownership, the focus is on budgeting for mortgage payments versus rental payments.

What the pros know is that when you're house hunting, you have to budget for other “hidden” costs as well: homeowner association dues, property taxes (and property tax increases), utilities, lawn care and maintenance, home maintenance and repairs, and any home improvement or remodeling projects you're planning on.

These additional costs shouldn't scare you away from buying a home. Instead, the pros use the knowledge of these costs to properly compare one house versus another to understand what the real investment and monthly budget in each house will be. Always better to buy wisely than blindly!

Home Buying Secret #3: Hands off your money

For at least 3 to 6 months before you plan to buy your home, leave your money alone.

That means not making any big purchases. Not even with your credit cards. Not even if it's furniture for the house you plan to buy.

Also, do not open any new credit cards or apply for any other loans during this time.

Lenders like to see a stable financial history when they're evaluating whether to give you a mortgage, and big purchases, a lot of debt, or applications for new credit cards or loans can raise red flags and make it hard for you to get the mortgage you want.

Home Buying Secret #4: Know what you're buying

Some home buyers shy away from getting a home inspection because it will cost them a few hundred dollars. The pros know, though, that a good home inspector can reveal information during the inspection that can wind up saving them thousands, making it well worth the up front cost.

The home inspector's report may reveal issues with the home that you can use as leverage to bargain with the seller. Or it may reveal more severe issues with the home that might alter your decision about whether to purchase. And if the inspection reveals no major issues, then you come away with a peace of mind the pros know is worth far more than a few hundred dollars. It's worth it to not wonder what's “under the surface” — always better to know!

Home Buying Secret #5: Know where you're buying

If you love the house, does it really matter that much what the neighborhood is like?

The pros will tell you: Yes!

The last thing you want is to move in to what you think is a dream house only to discover that the neighborhood around it doesn't fit you at all. Finding the perfect neighborhood is almost as important as finding the perfect house!

When you're looking at a house, make sure to check out the neighborhood at several different times of day to get a feel for the activity level. Try doing your commute from the house to see if the traffic level and commute time is doable. If you're a family who prefers walking or biking, make sure the grocery store, parks, and public transportation are close enough.

The pros also always research the schools, even if they don't have kids. Why? Because the school district affects the value of a home. The value of your home tends to go up when you buy in a good school district; a bad school district usually has the opposite effect.

Home Buying Secret #6: Don't obsess over market timing

Are there times when the housing market is up or down? Of course.

But here's what the pros know: The right time to buy your house is when YOU are ready, not during some elusive “perfect” housing market.

Any real estate pro will have more than one story about someone who was ready to buy, and watched as their dream house slipped out from under their hands because they were trying to “play the market” instead of simply making prudent buying decisions based on their own individual situation.

[bctt tweet=”Recipe for "perfect timing": Be informed, be smart, and buy when you're ready to buy. #homebuying”]

Real estate is cyclical. It will go up, it will go down, and it will go up again. Waiting for the “perfect” time to buy will only guarantee that someone else is going to walk off with the house you've had your eye on. The recipe for “perfect timing” is to be informed, be smart, and buy when you're ready to buy.