Get Ready, Get Set For This Historic Real Estate Buyer’s Market

Everyone knows the real estate market is going through historic upheavals and steadily declining property values. This means pain for some and opportunity for others, especially those who are poised to become first time buyers, or who have been out of the market and want to get back in.

Getting the most out of an opportunity doesn’t happen by accident-it takes preparation. Preparation means you will be able to move into action with calmness and confidence. It’s wise to go through some basic steps to prepare for that day when you will pick up the phone and call a realtor. Here are three steps that will get you going:

Clutter Clearing

Clutter clearing is an exciting endeavor, if you know what it can do for you. Most of us don’t think much about stuff until it’s time to move. That’s when we realize there are thousands of individual items tucked away out of everyday view: kitchen utensils, that DVD collection, racks of clothes, loaded drawers, linens … and then the garage, with yard equipment, tools, holiday decorations … and on, and on and on.

Well, stuff requires space, and space costs money, and clutter takes a toll on energy. In the next step, you’ll be envisioning your dream home, so it helps to have a good mental image of your inventory of stuff. Why buy a house for storing stuff you rarely, if ever use?

Run everything past a test: Do you use it at least once a year? Will you, honestly, ever get around to finishing those projects you started months or years ago? Do you need that many shoes? (You’ve got to push through the idea of, “Well, you never know, I just might need it.” Let go. Create space for something new to happen.)

If stuff doesn’t pass the test, get rid of it. The unloading process can be a lot of fun. There’s stuff you can simply donate to a charity, there’s tons of stuff you can turn into cash through a yard sale (if you haven’t done one, you’re missing a good experience) and then there’s stuff that’s too good to donate or unload at a yard sale. Find collectors and specialty shops for things like that vintage electric train you’ve kept since you were five. Consignment shops are excellent for getting a decent return on what you’ve spent on those finer things.

People who do this step seriously report feeling light and free, and many refuse to let clutter build up again because of the joy of always being current.

Create a Vision

Sit down with your family and write down the specifics of your dream home: Is it one-story or two? In the city or in the suburbs? List the specific rooms and their functions, the number of bathrooms, kinds of closets, size and location of the laundry room, size of yard, attached garage-or detached. Get a clear vision in your mind of what you really want.

This is a very practical exercise that gives you a sense of power and saves lots of time when it comes to actually looking at properties. First, you can tell a realtor what you’re looking for-so your realtor can narrow the list of available properties, and instead of emotionally reacting to every house you see, trying to decide whether or not you like it, you will simply recognize whether or not it matches your vision.

Get Pre-Qualified for a Loan

You might be a member of USAA or other organization that offers home loans (USAA does) and that you’ve done business with for a long time. Let them know that you’re thinking about buying a home and would like to apply for loan pre-qualification. Based on your income and the amount of down payment you can make, you will be told what size mortgage you can handle, and from that, the home price you can afford. If you don’t have a connection with a particular institution, then ask for referrals from family and friends, or a realtor. Knowing the price you can afford will also help your realtor narrow the list when you’re ready to start looking.

So after you’ve cleared the clutter, developed a clear vision of your dream home and have a loan pre-qualification in hand, then call The Ron Howard Group: The team that will help you find and negotiate the purchase of that house you literally dreamed up.