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I'm thinking about buying a home. Where do I start?

The first step in the plan for potential homebuyers is a credit check. It's best to keep an eye on your credit reports so you can spot any mistakes and dispute them. Also, avoid running up high credit card bills in the months prior to buying a home.

These two things will help you in the next phase of your game plan, pre-approval on a mortgage. A full-service real estate broker will be able to help you with this portion of the plan. Pre-approval includes analyzing your income, assets and present debt to estimate how much house you can afford. This means the lender has committed to loaning you the money subject to the house you choose to buy. Being pre-approved for a loan will make you attractive to sellers because the contract won't be tied up with financial issues.

After you know how much you can spend, you are in the homestretch. This is the time for you to become familiar with neighborhoods and the features of a home. Educate yourself by visiting local real estate Web sites and viewing the inventory of listings. This is also the time for you to decide what you want and need in a home.

A solid game plan needs a good coach, a Coldwell Banker SSK Realtor can help you through all steps of the plan, prepare you for any unforeseen problems and eventually help you to buy the home of your dreams.

Why do I need a Realtor to help me find a home with all of the technology and advertising available?

The Internet and newspaper ads are good places to start researching what the current housing market is like. You can also find information to help answer many of your financing questions. Once you have looked at what's available to you it's time to get a professional involved. You might spend hours scanning newspaper ads and home magazines, driving through neighborhoods looking for "for sale" signs or phoning on individual listings, and still miss the opportunity to see some of the best homes available. A professional Coldwell Banker SSK sales associate will save you time, money and make a wealth of information resources available to you - so together you can find that special home. View our Sales Assocociates

What should I consider when I start to look for a home?

First, put together a list of features and benefits you want in a home. Think of such things as pricing, location, size and amenities. If you can't get a home at the price you want with all the features you are looking for, figure out what features are most important to you and rank them in priority so you know what you're willing to give-and-take. Would you rather have a large kitchen and smaller bedrooms? Also consider your needs in the future. Maybe now is the time to buy a larger home rather than expanding a smaller home in the future. Your Realtor can also help you compare the price of homes with the features you are looking for or suggest alternate uses of space.

How do I choose between renting or buying?

Owning a home offers tax benefits as well as the freedom to make decisions about your home. Homeowners, unlike renters, can secure a fixed-rate loan and lock in their monthly payments and make investment plans knowing these expenses won't change substantially. However, rent can go up each year without the renter's input. Renters are at the whim of their landlord, while homeowners are in control of their property when it comes to decisions, such as whether they allow pets, any decorating or improvements that are permanent.

What do all of those abbreviations in the property ads mean?

If you find yourself stumbling to understand a description of a property, the following list should help you out. We've composed a list of some of the most frequently used abbreviations.

FDRformal dining room
LRliving room
MBRmaster bedroom
DRdining room
FP, FRPLC, FPLCfireplace
WBFPwoodburning fireplace
FRfamily room
LLlower level
GRMET KITgourmet kitchen
PWDR RMpowder room
UPRupper floor
HDW, HWF, HDWD hardwood floors

As a buyer, do I have the right to obtain past information about the property I am interested in purchasing?

Yes. Sellers are required to disclose all known defects associated with the property. With the help of your Realtor, you can find out what has happened to the property in the past. You should make careful observations, examine the property and request or otherwise obtain any records important to you. These requests should be in writing. If you decide to put an offer on a home, it is important to have a professional inspection completed before closing.

If I am thinking about buying a newly-constructed house, why do I need a Realtor?

Building a home often requires hours of research and decision-making. You must first decide what area you want to build in and which builder you want to work with. After these initial decisions, you still have many choices of floor plans, building materials and fixtures. Personalization and freedom of choice are some of the benefits of building a home, but they can also be the stressful part. Using a Realtor means you have a professional, someone with experience, to guide you through the process. You'll still get to make the choices on your own, but your Realtor will be there to help, keeping your best interests in mind. Also, buyer representation comes at no cost to you.