Buying a home, whether it's your first or your fifth, can be a daunting task.  It is one of your biggest financial investments.  With all the news the past 5 years about the housing bubble, and so many people losing money on their home, buying a home may not sound like a good financial investment.  But guess what?  Those people who bought at the top of the Market and did not HAVE to sell the past 5 years, they are now starting to be in a position to be able sell in many areas and not lose money.  Owning a house is more secure than owning stocks.  Why?  Because a house is something tangible - you can touch it, you can improve it, you can live in it and enjoy your life - or you can use it as a rental vehicle to create wealth for you - it doesn't just do ONE thing.   

One of the main questions we are asked is how to minimize risk when purchasing a home.  Here in the Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate market we have a long history in our Multiple List tools which allows us, as REALTORS,  to look at the history of a subdivision or an area.  Some areas did not lose any value during the past 5 years, some gained value, and others did lose.  When the Pat Wattam Team does a buyer consultation, we explore where you want to buy a home and why that area is important to you.  We can show you statistics on how that area has performed so that you can make a good buying decision.  I own a beach condo in Orange Beach, AL.  I bought it at the top of the market.  It is now worth less than half of what I paid for it.  But does that matter to me.  Well, of course it does!  But seriously, my note on the mortgage is what I agreed to.  I love going there to visit and it brings me great joy.  Nothing has changed for me, except that if I wanted to sell or refinance, the value has declined.  Owning a home, as I said, is more than just a financial investment.  It truly is a way of life - how you want to live everyday.  What it the ONE thing a house MUST have in order for you to purchase it?  I'll bet it has nothing to do with price per sq ft but more with how you want to live.  

So, here are my tips on buying a house:

1.  Choose an agent who has your best interests at heart.  That doesn't mean getting you a home at a fantastic price but someone who helps you find a home that fits in with your vision of your life in a home.

2.  Get fully approved prior to purchasing.  This can save you thousands of dollars during negotiation.  Every buyer typically gets 'pre-approved' but we all know that means nothing.  The lender has to actually verify your credit, your job, your assets, your tax returns - then you KNOW that your approval letter will mean something to a seller and they may be willing to give a little more knowing that your loan is definitely going to close.  CHOOSE you lender carefully.  You are much better off working with a local institution who will see you as a persona and help you through the process.  We know lots of very reliable lenders and we're happy to share their names with you.  Just give us a call.

3.  When picking out a house, if you only plan to be in it in a couple of years, you need to buy what is traditional for the area.  Don't buy the largest house or smallest house in the subdivision, don't buy one that has a different style than the others - all this will help you maintain your equity.  If you plan to stay 10 or rmore years, buy whatever you want!

4.  When you find a home and you are ready to make an offer, make a serious offer with a serious deposit. Show the seller that you have money and that you are ready to go.  Make the seller an attractive offer with a strong approval letter and see if you can get them to accept!

5.  Have the home inspected by a licensed professional inspector.  They can find things that your dad, or brother, uncle, or cousin may or may not be able to find.  And remember, a home inspection is not a laundry list to the seller to make the home just like a brand new one; rather, it is to address issues that you could not see with your eye - cracked heat exchangers, bad roof, broken rafter, termites, etc.

6.  Plan ahead for the move and start getting ready by boxing things in each room, clearly labeled.  If you are making a local move and hiring local movers, they charge by the house.  Plan ahead of time on where you want them to place your furniture.  There is nothing worse than letting the clock keep ticking and you try to decide where they should unload the boxes or the furniture!

7.  ENJOY your new home!

I am sure that many of you have some other suggestions for buyers.  Please make the comments here to share with everybody!