1. Find a real estate agent that's simpatico. Homebuying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It's critical that the agent you chose is both skilled and a good fit with your personality. At The Susan Horak Group Re/Max Boone Realty we have three full time buyer's agents ready to help you. You can see all of our agent's bios on our website at: http://www.susanhorak.com/aboutshg.html
2. Remember, there's no "right" time to buy, any more than there's a right time to sell. (except that in Columbia the high season is early Spring to mid Summer) If you find a home now, don't try to second-guess the interest rates or the housing market by waiting. Changes don't usually occur fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won't stay on the market long.
3. Don't ask for too many opinions. It's natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas will make it much harder to make a decision. Know what you want, tell your agent, and she will present you with all your options.
4. Accept that no house is ever perfect. Focus in on the things that are most important to you and let the minor ones go.
5. Don't try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to "win" by getting an extra-low price may lose you the home you love. Know your personality type and if you are a 'shark' understand that stepping back and being rational, kind, and empathetic often gets you a better 'deal' than going for the throat.
6. Remember your home doesn't exist in a vacuum. Don't get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself—lighting fixtures, kitchen cabinets—that you forget such issues as amenities, noise level, etc., that have a big impact on what it's like to live in your new home.
7. Don't wait until you've found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate insurance availability, and consider a schedule for moving. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers.
8. Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-home buying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be some costs. Don't leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.
9. Accept that a little buyer's remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big commitment, but it also yields big benefits.
10. Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. Ask your agent about typical appreciation in Columbia or in your neighborhood.