When you are ready to buy a new home in Norfolk or Virginia Beach, what do you think is the first thing to do? Some might suggest getting the latest newspaper for home listings, while others say go see a Realtor and ask to be shown suitable vacancies. Both are good options to start, but it always helps to go in with a plan, so that you are prepared for any eventuality during your house search. Whether you play the weekend warrior, scouting out For Sale signs on your morning drive, or research the Internet for what interests you the most, it's good to have the right tools and the proper procedure in place.
Before you even think of making a bid, have this checklist in hand and heed it well. Buying a home is a big move, one that requires serious thought. It's important to consider these steps:
1) Know what you can afford. What you want to buy and what you can afford to buy could result in two entirely different scenarios. You may already be aware of your annual income and debt load, but when it comes to eligibility for homebuying there is assistance that could get you into a nice home, one you didn't realize you could contract. Before you do anything, meet with your bank or a financial expert to determine your ideal mortgage payment for your current situation.
2) Know what you must pay for. If you're eyeing that gorgeous condo on the beach, don't assume you can just make mortgage payments and relax. If the condo is part of a greater community, there are various fees to consider for pool maintenance, security, groundskeeping, and overall assessments on the buildings. The $200K home could end up costing you much more in the long run, for example, if it's assessed that tens of thousands of dollars are needed to repair the complex. Ask the owners what to expect.
3) Get the tools for travel. Always have the following on hand when you're out for a drive: mobile phone, camera, PDA with Internet access, and pad and pencil. If you have an iPhone or Blackberry with advanced features, all the better! Use these tools to record instances of For Sale signs you come across when you drive around town. You can photograph the house for future contemplation, call the agent or owner on the spot for details. Look up the price on a real estate phone app, and create a checklist of possibilities in the neighborhoods you desire.
4) Map out a plan of attack. Where you hope to live will impact many aspects of your life, including your work commute, where your children go to school, and even where you socialize. You may discover your dream condo on the beach, but will life be as sunny when you find you must brave thick traffic every morning to run errands or go to work? The split level home you adore that's close to the office may look good in the daytime, too, but is it really in a safe neighborhood? As you whittle down possibilities, study the areas and various patterns for traffic and activity. You aren't just moving into the home, but into that region.
The more prepared you are in buying a home in Virginia Beach, the happier and more secure you'll feel when you sign the contracts. Be ready to ask the tough questions and uncover what you can expect from where you want to live.