Maybe it’s a grand entrance or a big backyard or even a very specific master bathroom layout: You’ve got to admit that you have some specific ideas for a dream home. Now, the challenge is getting everything you want for a price you can also live with long-term.
By the time you are grappling with these questions, you are likely also a seasoned homeowner (and buyer). That’s a credit to you in this new hunt—but here are a few more tips to keep in mind.
Find out your current home’s value:
Whether you’ve been in your current home for decades or are newer to the neighborhood, chances are the value has fluctuated since the time of your purchase. Although there are numerous ways to get an “estimate,” the best bet is by working with a realtor who understands the market, comps and your home’s unique aspects.
Set your budget:
Armed with the knowledge of how much your current home could garner in a sale, factor that into the other ways your life has changed since your last search. Also know that while what you can get approved for may be one thing, what truly is a comfortable budget may be a different matter. With a dream home in particular, it’s likely the place you will continue to call home as kids leave the nest and you enter retirement—so figuring out what is sustainable through all of those changes is key.
Get pre-approved for a loan:
Before you formally begin the search, take the time to get your financing squared away by getting pre-approved for a loan through a reputable mortgage lender. Although most pre-approval documents are only valid for two to three months, that’s better than finding “the house” and then having a more organized buyer beat you to the punch.
Remember what you can change:
If your wish list is three pages long, it’s going to be pretty hard to find a house with all of the criteria. Does that mean it can’t be done? No—you might just have to be the one who does the work. For example, if you will only go for a home with quartz countertops in the kitchen, don’t rush to rule other contenders out if the price would allow you to make this change after buying.
Allow time for the search:
It’s your dream home, but it may not materialize overnight. Especially if there is no urgency to move from your current house, take the pressure off yourself—and entertain all options, such as renovating or building a new property.
Finally, while it may be hard to check everything off the wish list and it may be disappointing to make compromises, remember that memories are what will really transform your new house into a dream home.