Tips for Home Buyers in Southeastern Wisconsin

Buying a home is the largest investment you may ever make, yet too often it's a decision made without adequate preparation or protection.

  1. Get PRE-APPROVED, not just pre-qualified. Being pre-approved means a lender has verified your information and credit rating and agreed to provide you with a specific amount of money pending the appraisal and meeting of any loan program specific criteria. It also gives you an idea of how much you can afford to borrow. You are in a better position to go house shopping knowing exactly how much you can afford and that you have financing available to you. A pre-approval is more powerful than a pre-qualification, which is based solely on your word, without any verifications.

  2. Don't do it alone. HIRE A BUYERS AGENT. In Wisconsin, unless you have a buyers agency agreement, the agent is working in the best interest of the seller, whether it is the listing agent or not. Buying a home is a complicated and multi-faceted process. If you choose not to use a buyers agent, we recommend you assemble a team to help you through the process, including a reputable mortgage lender, a licensed home inspector, a real-estate lawyer, and any of your friends and family who have gone through the process and can give you guidance and referrals. Here at The Agency Real Estate, we offer Buyers Agency at no cost to you.

  3. Love at first sight? While you may be in love with the property, does it truly fit your needs? Make a list of your wants and needs to make sure the house fits your requirements.  This is another way having a buyers agent can help you. As a non-emotionally involved party, your buyers agent can help you separate fact from feelings.

  4. Overbuying. You may qualify for a $300,000 mortgage, but can you really afford it? Analyze your monthly costs: debt, food, utilities, transportation, entertainment, childcare, and savings. As a general guideline, your total monthly debt, including your new mortgage, should not exceed 35% of your total income before taxes. Remember to budget enough to cover closing costs (often 2 to 6 percent of the home's purchase price, depending on your mortgage lender and financing program), plus moving, new purchases for the home, etc. Always allow a cushion for increases in fixed expenses such as utilities and taxes. You should own the home, don't let it own you!

  5. Do not rely on oral agreements. Do things right and get everything in writing. Written agreements almost always outweigh oral ones when it comes to contracts. If the listing says the appliances are not included, but the listing agent says they're included, protect yourself and put it on paper.

  6. Always think toward the future.  The real estate market is ever-changing. Keep in mind that re-sale values will also change. The average person moves about every 6 years. This is another reason to take the time to make an intelligent and non-emotional decision on the home you decide to purchase. This is another place where the buyer agent can help you to make a sound investment decision.

  7. Read the fine print. If you don't understand what you're signing, ask questions. Ask for documents in advance, take the time to read the paperwork, after all, this is your biggest investment. At The Agency Real Estate, we will provide you with copies of any real estate related forms before the transaction so that you are comfortable with them when the time comes.