You've been furiously scrolling Zillow. Pinning kitchens with wild abandon. And silently cursing your current quarters. The signs are all there - it's time to buy a new house. But before you get swept up in the (seriously exciting) excitement, get your ducks in a focused row.
Picture this. It's a sunny Saturday. You lace up your shoes, grab your coffee and hit the streets, ready to find your new house. You're savvy. You've done your research. You know your budget and have a pre-approval letter in hand. You walk into a like-new open house and swoon. The furnishings are just your style, it smells like sea salt and jasmine and are those mimosas on that marble waterfall island??
You sip a mimosa and play it cool. But before you can close your car door, you're on the phone with your agent telling her to "write it up!" Whoa, Nelly. Pump. The. Breaks.
Did you factor the HOA fee into your monthly budget? Do you even want an HOA? Did you notice that the backyard wasn't fenced in? Didn't you want a fence? Did you ask about the school district?The moral of my cautionary tale is this: don't be distracted by the shiny objects. Get really clear on your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and hell-nos - or risk getting caught with some serious buyer's remorse.
I believe wholeheartedly in know before you go. So much so that I made you a handy wishlist worksheet so you can get your needs, wants and dealbreakers down on paper before you even look at a house. There are incredible homes hitting the market every single day and you're going to want to see the prettiest ones. But you're going to be setting yourself up for dissapointment if you preview homes that are out of your price range or don't meet your must-haves criteria.
So here's my advice. Print out the worksheet, grab and pen and get really real with yourself. Don't automatically set your budget for your pre-approval amount. This number is the maximum amount the bank will loan you, but maybe not the amount you'd be comfortable paying back every month. If you need a fenced yard for your prized pup and don't have the cash to install one yourself, well - a fence just became a must-have. If you've got your heart set on a particular school for your kids, then anything outside that district is a deal breaker.
Next, grab a coffee with your real estate agent and bring your worksheet. Now, before he or she (or me) even cracks open the MLS, we can eliminate a lot of distractions and zero in on only the homes that meet your needs.