Once you’ve settled on the goal of buying your first Greenwich house, it’s hard to resist getting out there and getting started immediately! No matter if you know how vital it is to stick to a realistic budget on a purchase that’s this substantial, as soon as you’ve begun to save for that down payment, you’ll be hard-pressed not to at least stop by whenever you see an “Open House” sign. Even if it’s in a neighborhood where you know prices are half again what’s in your price range.
There may be no harm in that—but realistically, only if you are already following a delineated game plan. One that’s reality-based. Hard-headed. Businesslike. If not, it’s a better idea to resist the house hunting (even pre-house hunting) until your plans are charted out and underway. The danger in getting ahead of yourself is that buying your Greenwich house is at least partially an emotional undertaking—and falling in love with the wrong house is the last thing you need. What’s at stake is gaining the incomparable feeling that now you control the place where you live (rather than the feeling that it’s the house that is controlling you)!
Drawing up a game plan that sets everything in motion the right way doesn’t take Pulitzer Prize creativity. Financial guru Dave Ramsey has even boiled it down to “7 simple steps” for buying a house. I’d go further: the most pivotal parts can actually be found in his first three:
1. Save for a down payment
2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
3. Find a real estate agent
- The first step takes no more than a sheet of paper, a sharp pencil, and determination to calculate how much you can realistically set aside each month. The second step comes after your savings are nearing the percentage likely to be required for your down payment. I might disagree with Mr. Ramsey that this comes next—teaming with your Greenwich real estate agent might be a better next step, but let’s go with his #2 for now.
- Step 2. Get pre-approved. I always give my buyers three choices for them to interview and get rates and program proposals with.
- Step 3: Find an agent with experience, local market knowledge, works hard and that hears and understands your needs. And is a sharp negotiator.
- Go house hunting.
- Submit an offer.
- Get a home inspection;
- Close on your house.
Of course, this step-by-step is over-simplified, but laying out an advance strategy for buying a house does keep you in the driver’s seat. It also makes it much more likely that the Greenwich house you wind up with will be one that guarantees homeownership will be a joy instead of a burden. What separates a good agent from a great one in the home purchase process is another whole blogpost– stay tuned.