5 Lessons to Learn Before Buying in Salt Lake City
Buying a home is an exciting and proud event, especially if you're lucky enough to be settling down in a region as beautiful as Salt Lake City. Of course, finding homes for sale in Salt Lake City, Utah, may seem easy at first thought, but there's more than meets the eye. In order to buy smart and protect your financial future, it's essential that you learn these five lessons.
1. Don't let the bank do the numbers for you.
You've probably heard this advice repeated again and again, and you likely just dismissed it outright. After all, you already know your budget ... right? Wrong! So many buyers walk into the home buying process with no real numbers, and you won't have those numbers until you apply for pre-approval with various lenders.
The pre-approval process will tell you the top-end of how much you can borrow, based on your income and expenses, but remember that this range may exceed what you can actually afford. If a lender says you're pre-approved for $450,000, don't take that at face value—ask for rates and monthly mortgage estimates and figure out what will actually fit your budget.
Once you've sat down and looked at your budget, you'll know exactly what price you're comfortable with along with the down payment you're able to make and the amount you can afford in closing costs.
2. Take time to discover neighborhoods early on.
Chances are, if you have kids in school, family or friends nearby, or you work locally, there are certain parts of Salt Lake City that better fit your criteria than others.
After all, no one wants to buy a new home with a long commute. So, take time to discover neighborhoods early in the process. To narrow down neighborhoods, start by looking at home values. These tell you if you can afford to live there. Then, drive through and check for things like well-manicured lawns, signs of damage, and general maintenance issues.
3. Weigh your preferences and make a list.
Making a list of "must-haves" and "would like to haves" may seem silly, so it's advice a lot of home buyers skip completely. The issue is, home buying is both exciting and stressful, and failing to write down the things you care about will make it that much more difficult to choose the right home.
In fact, go a step further than making a list—bring it with you! Each time you view a home, bring a copy of the checklist and take notes on where it meets the bar and where it doesn't. Once you view a few homes and the details begin to blur, you'll be glad you did, especially if you're discussing your decision with a co-buyer or someone else.
4. Understand the concessions you can ask for.
As a buyer, you have the right to include concessions, AKA "contingencies," when making an offer on a home. However, it's important that you understand how each one works, and how it can change the perception of your offer. For instance, a seller will be quicker to accept an offer with no contingencies than an offer with even just one.
Still, these contingencies play a big role in protecting you during the transaction. For instance, "contingent upon inspection" allows you to back out of the deal if an inspection finds any major issues, which can save you from making a terrible financial commitment. Yet, if it's a newer home and it's competitive, you might leave it out. That's why you need a good agent you can trust, which brings us to the last lesson.
5. Partnering with the wrong agent can harm you.
A "bad" real estate agent may boil down to one that's non-responsive, inattentive, or who doesn't listen to your needs. These things are annoying at best and, at worst, detrimental to your financial future. The home you buy is a major investment, and that means having strong support, and knowledge is paramount to protecting yourself.