The Basics of Real Estate
Anyone who has ever lived in a rented apartment or house knows the frustration of not being able to control of his/her living space. As the rightful owner, the landlord has the final say about what a renter can do to the space, and if the wall color makes the renter break out in a rash just to look at it, well, s/he can't change it without the landlord's consent.
On the other hand, nothing beats the feeling you'll get when you move into a house that you've bought for yourself. It's yours, and nobody (except possibly your home owners' association) can tell you what to do with it.
Whether it's your first time buying a house or your twentieth, the process can be a nerve-wracking. To begin with, there's all the effort involved in getting your paperwork together, talking to lenders and realtors, making decisions about neighborhoods and loan options, and then hitting the bricks to look for your new home.
If it's a seller's market, buyers have to be ready to make an offer as soon as they find a house they like, and in extreme conditions, they may have to be prepared to get into a bidding war to win the property. If it's a buyer's market, the choice of houses likely will be greater and the pressure to jump on the opportunity correspondingly less, but having a lot of options can bring its own set of difficulties and frustrations to the table, to say nothing of fuelling indecision and dithering. And the process of making an offer and then waiting for the seller to respond can keep the prospective buyer on tenterhooks for hours or days at a time.
But the results are definitely worth the pain. Fortunately, those venturing into the home real estate market now have more tools at their fingertips and better access to critical information than ever before. You no longer are at the mercy of others when it comes to getting a copy of your credit report or doing some preliminary research about the real estate market in your city. You can just jump on the information superhighway and speed on toward your goal.
If you've been driving through your city's neighborhoods looking at houses from the street, and daydreaming about living in one of them, it's probably just a matter of time before you decide to take the plunge. You can do a lot to help your situation before you ever walk into a bank to talk to a lender, or sit down with a realtor to map out your strategy.
Once you've decided you want to buy a house, there are certain steps you should take before and during the process to make it all go more smoothly and to keep yourself calm and collected if the going gets tough. If you've decided to sell your house, the list of things you need to do is shorter, but probably will require as much or more time to accomplish.
Looking for a new house can be a very emotional experience, but being
prepared and knowing what to expect throughout the process will make
those emotions easier to cope with. When you're buying a house, above
all, you need to cultivate patience—patience while you're getting your
materials together, patience in exploring options with your lender, and
most especially, patience in looking at houses and choosing the one that
best suits your needs and those of your family. Remember, this is not a
test—you don't have to find the "one right house." You only have to find
a house that will serve fit your criteria and your pocketbook, and thus
will become a proper home.
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If you're selling your home, you will need patience of a different sort—the patience to wait calmly till the right person comes through the doors and falls in love with the place. It can seem difficult, but in most cases, it's only a matter of time.
Facts about the current U.S. home real estate market
- Despite the present economic downturn, one in five American adults (23 percent) plans to buy a house within the next five years.*
- To take advantage of the new federal tax credit of $8,000, 18 percent of adults surveyed plan to buy a house this year.*
- Las Vegas presently is the weakest real estate market in the country.**
- New York City presently is the healthiest real estate market in the country.**
- Mortgage rates are currently at near-historic lows, hovering around 4.5 to 5 percent for well-qualified buyers.