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Tips for Delaware
Home Buyers

Clean Up Your Credit

Did you know that you can obtain a free copy of your credit report once a year? Just contact Annual Credit Report to request a copy. Credit scoring differs depending on the type of credit being sought, so don’t put too much weight in your credit score at this stage. Instead, review the credit report for any errors that need to be corrected.


Be Ready To Stay Put

If you don’t plan to remain in the area for at least a few years, you should probably hold off on purchasing a home. When you factor in the transaction costs of purchasing a home, you may end up losing money if you sell too soon.


Don’t Go In Broke

Save, save, save before you start shopping for a home. There are many competitive mortgage programs that allow you to finance all or most of your purchase, but there are closing costs such as transfer taxes, attorney fees, mortgage fees and title insurance to consider as well. Make sure that, when all is said and done, you have a financial cushion for things like furniture, window treatments, and lawn equipment, in addition to an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.


Buy Within Your Means

A lender will pre-approve your mortgage based on your income, assets and the information that appears on your credit report; however, they don’t have access to your discretionary expenses, such as entertainment, clothing, vacations, etc. Make sure the mortgage payment you’re taking on will fit into your entire budget. Don’t forget to include other household expenses such as utilities, trash removal and cell phone bills when determining how much you can afford.


Look At The Big Picture

We all love to flip through magazines and imagine ourselves in those homes. When it comes time to buy a home, however, it’s important to use your head along with your heart to make the right choice. You’re not only buying a home; you’re making an investment. Try not to lose sight of the long-term value of the home by getting caught up in its aesthetic qualities.


Be Ready To Buy The Neighborhood

It’s important to explore the inside and outside of the homes you tour, but it’s equally important to take a look at the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. If you’ve found a home you like, make sure you drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and week. You may find that there is less (or more) activity than you were expecting during off-hours.


Buy With Your Brain, Not With Your Heart

Make sure you’re making a sound business decision when you’re buying a home. Look beyond the amenities and consider things like location, current market value and resale value. It's generally a better long-term decision to purchase the least expensive home in the nicest neighborhood than the nicest home in the least-expensive neighborhood.


Get A Home Inspection

A home inspection costs about $400, but it could cost thousands of dollars to skip it. A home inspector will make you aware of any major defects, safety issues and upcoming repair/maintenance items. Your REALTOR® can address any major defects on your behalf by negotiating repair, replacement or a credit at settlement. More importantly, knowing about any potential safety issues and repair/maintenance items will prevent you from getting caught off-guard with expensive contractor bills down the line.


Don’t Assume You Can Fix It

It looks so easy on HGTV. Unfortunately, it's often much more difficult, time-consuming and expensive in real life. While some Do-It-Yourself projects are relatively easy and can be fun, some things are best left to professionals. There are many good ‘as-is’ deals available below market value. Before purchasing a home in need of a full rehab, calculate the time and expense involved in completing the project, then multiply that figure by three to account for unexpected expenses. If the final figure is more than you can comfortably afford, you are not a professional contractor and/or you are not in a financial position to hire a professional contractor, consider purchasing a home that needs no more than minor cosmetic repairs such as paint and landscaping.


Don’t Go It Alone

Can you buy a home without a REALTOR®? Absolutely. But why would you? As a buyer, there is absolutely no cost to work with a professional REALTOR®. More importantly, a REALTOR® will:

  • Narrow down thousands of listings based on your chosen amenities.
  • Negotiate the best price based on market value.
  • Negotiate home inspection items that may arise.
  • Ensure that all legal issues involved in buying a home are considered.
  • Provide you with a network of professionals including loan officers, insurance agents, home inspectors and attorneys and guide your purchase from start to finish.


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Donna Marshall is a REALTOR located at 5307 Limestone Rd Suite 100, Wilmington, Delaware 19808

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