By Leonard Baron
No matter how you slice it, buying real estate is a complicated process that takes time and hard work to get right. Whether you're looking for your dream home or an investment property to help build your retirement nest egg, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Mortgage interest rates are still low: Mortgage rates have bumped up a little lately, but they are still low by historical standards. Many people have stopped chasing their dream home or investment property because of the recent rate increases, but they're making a huge mistake. Rates will likely head even higher over the next few years, and you're going to kick yourself for failing to secure a 30-year fixed interest rate loan before those even higher rates kick in.
It sounds cliche, but real estate is buyer beware: Your real estate agent can guide you to make a smart purchase, but it's your job to make every decision and do all the analysis that goes along with purchasing property. You've got to make sure it is a smart financial move to buy the property. You've got to review the title documents, mortgage loan documents and disclosures, homeowners association docs, home inspection reports, seller disclosures, etc. Each document contains important information that you need to understand to avoid problem properties. It's a real challenge, but you must do the hard work needed to reduce your risk.
You should never buy a property that you don't love: If you don't love it, don't buy it. Real estate is likely the most expensive and complicated purchase you will ever make. So don't buy a property if it isn't a great fit for what you want. Don't buy if your attitude is "we just want to get something even though this isn't a perfect property for us." Note: No property is perfect -- especially not at the price you'd like to pay -- so be realistic when determining which property you "love."
Shop properties for at least 4 to 12 months: Take your time. Look at dozens of properties. Drive the areas you like during the day, night and on weekend. Talk to neighbors. You're probably risking your entire net worth when purchasing property, so make sure you are adequately educated on what you are buying -- and that takes time!
More from Zillow:
How to Get the Most Value From Your Home Inspection
How Much Paperwork to Buy a House?
Mortgage Shopping: How to Compare Good Faith Estimates
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