How to Buy Real Estate in 2014 (and Later)

Last year, you probably saw lots of up-and-down news reports and trend stories about the housing market. All this information can make it hard to know how to buy real estate, or when to buy a home, or even if you should buy now or keep renting.

But some things never change. The following tips were home buying best practices a generation ago and will still be practical in 2014—and even when the next generation of homebuyers arrives.

1. Don’t try to time the market.

Yes, the real estate market was extremely hot in 2013. But if you didn’t buy last year, you haven’t missed out. The key is to buy a home when you can afford it, you have your financing, and you’ve found the perfect home. That will always be the best time to buy, market trends aside.

2. Stick with it.

You can’t (or shouldn’t) force a home purchase. The property you buy will be your place to live for years to come, and an investment second. Spend the time you need to find the home that’s right for you. Remember: Home buying is a journey.

3. Don’t get overwhelmed by information.

If you watch the nightly news or read online news, you’ll hear a lot of real estate market predictions and trends. A lot of information will come at you from many different sources—including Facebook friends. Don’t take anything to be an absolute. There’s no right answer, no right forecast. Just keep your own goals and needs in mind and you’ll be fine.

4. Real estate is local.

They may be seeing multiple offers and bidding wars in San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean you’ll see them in your town. All that matters in real estate is what’s happening in your community. That means you should follow the local economy and housing markets. Go to open houses. Get connected to a local real estate agent who has their ‘feet on the street.’

5. Trust your instincts.

By all means, develop a strong understanding of your needs, the local market, and your financial situation. Once you have that information, you can more easily ‘go with your gut’ when you consider properties. Your instincts, along with the knowledge you’ve accumulated, will help you decide if a particular home is right for you; if it’s the right time for you to buy; and how to approach the purchase.

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