4 smart things homebuyers should do in 2024

Following some simple tips can make your homebuying process go much smoother.

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Buying a house is a huge step. Whether you’re buying your first home ever, upgrading to get more space for your expanding family or downsizing after your kids move out, it’s always a big deal to spend that kind of cash. 

But while it may be intimidating to hit the housing market, there is no need to be scared. As long as you are properly prepared, you can get out of your housing search with your finances intact.

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4 smart things homebuyers should do in 2024

Buying a house is generally a marathon, not a sprint, and you need to be prepared for the twists and turns that might come on your journey to owning your new home. Here are a few things smart homebuyers should do to make their experience as painless as possible.

Get a good agent

There are some things homeowners can try to do themselves — like home improvement projects, for example. Buying your house though, requires an expert touch. Do your due diligence and talk to multiple potential agents before finding one who fits your style and whom you trust to negotiate on your behalf to get you the best possible deal. 

“I just cannot suggest enough that the key to a successful transaction is making sure that you have good people that can help you navigate the market,” says Nick Bailey, president and CEO at RE/MAX.

A good agent will not only help you get the best deal, but they’ll use their knowledge of the market to show you homes you might not be able to find yourself. Before you do anything else in your homebuying search, find a good agent.

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Set aside plenty of cash

In order to buy a home, you’ll need to make a down payment — generally at least 3% of the home’s value, though many put down closer to 20%. That isn’t the only cost you’ll need to cover, though.

“Set aside funds for intangibles like moving expenses, furnishings and routine upkeep,” says Erik Nero, a financial advisor at First Step Wealth. “Things break and an untimely appliance or roof repair can be expensive.”

Nero recommends maintaining a slush fund of between 3% and 5% of the purchase price when you move into your new home.

Get preapproved

Preapproval is the process of getting a mortgage company to tentatively approve you for a mortgage before you have a home to buy. You’ll normally get preapproved for a maximum loan amount at a specific interest rate. 

“Consider getting preapproved for a mortgage to understand how much you can afford and to show sellers that you’re a serious buyer,” says Hanna Horvath, a certified financial planner.

Be open to various options

When starting your house search, you may have a dream home in mind. Like all the best-laid plans, though, this probably won’t come exactly to fruition. That house is probably not available, and if it is it might be far outside of your price range. But being flexible about a few things will let you find more houses and pick one that checks the most boxes. 

Horvath suggests looking at different neighborhoods to find a great home — maybe a home that’s a little outside the city center will offer you similar amenities but at a cheaper price point. She also suggests considering a fixer-upper. You’ll have to take care of a few projects when you move in, but you’ll get there for a much better price.

The bottom line

Moving is difficult, and buying a home can be a scary process. There are some things, though, that smart homebuyers can do to make the process a bit easier. It all starts with putting together your team by finding the best agent you can. From there, being flexible and considering getting a preapproved mortgage can all make a big difference to you ending up in the perfect house for you.