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Home ownership: How to take control of home buying to make it favorable for you

Low rates coupled with a bevy of homes for sale has created the ideal situation for buyers in the real estate marketplace. This perfect storm, however, has come with its fair share of turbulence and rough waters for consumers to navigate, not because of the real estate climate but rather shortcomings perpetuated by buyers.
What exactly ails most would be home buyers? Certainly, you'll find overzealous buyers who know what they want but fail to hook up with a real estate agent that knows the ins and outs of how to proceed with buying a home. For those consumers who want to tackle the home buying process on their own, you'll have to make yourself fully aware of what needs done well before you start shopping around and looking for your perfect home.
The biggest mistake most make is a simple fix: failing to get pre approved for a loan before they start shopping. You have to have some semblance or idea of what you have to spend and a subsequent price range or else you'll be essentially wasting your time in not only finding homes that you can't afford but also building up your hope should something be wrong with approval process, but meanwhile you're already scoping out where your couch will fit best in your would be living room.
As far as the approval process, you also want to be cautiously optimistic and prudent about that magic number that you are given. Yes, you may be approved for a loan of 250,000, but trying to find a house that is at or very close to that figure could leave you wishing you had been more realistic about your finances and found a house that is more reasonable from a mortgage standpoint. Simply put, buy only as much house as you need and don't fixate on that approval amount as being where you need to be.
And of course, you can't underestimate buying based on bells and whistles versus practicality. You want to avoid the impulse buy when it comes to your home. Buying a dress or shirt without much thought is one thing, but your home is easily one of the more important purchases you'll have in your lifetime, and it needs to be entered into carefully.

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Examine your needs and don't deviate from them. If you see a bar in the basement or in ground swimming pool, ask yourself if you really need or actually want these things based on your current situation. In the case of the pool, you may get sucked into that water glistening off the sunshine but fail to comprehend how much upkeep and money goes into having one.
Remember, your house isn't just a monthly payment. Plenty of other variables and money pieces play into the equation, and buying based on emotion or overextending your means makes the process of purchasing a new home laborious rather than enjoyable.

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