If you are moving this year, there is a lot of ahead preparation you can do!
Know Your Budget (and stick to it!) - When you are planning on making a move, you need to have a clear understanding of what your budget is first. Know how much you pay on all your expenses and see how a house payment, house insurance and property taxes all fit into that. Also, consider what you spend on utilities now and how much you can afford to increase those costs (or not). No fudging! If you think you need to do better on your spending, when you are making an actual budget is not the time to do that. You make a budget on how your live NOW and go from there. We all want to do better--and sometimes we do; however, you need to stick with reality when you are planning for your future. After you have done all of that, you then need to talk to a lender to see what type of financing you may qualify for. If the lender says you qualify for more than the budget you have, still go with YOUR BUDGET. The lender has no idea how much you eat out or what other expenses you may have, so their numbers are based on your income and credit history, not your lifestyle. Then make sure that while you are looking for a new house, you take into account all of those numbers first. Once you know all of this, then you can start your home search with your Realtor. A good Realtor will help keep you in your budget and will keep in mind all the extras that are important to you. They also will help keep you on the ground and not in the clouds. Sometimes the reality of what we can afford is not the best, but, in the long run, it's so much better to be able to afford the lifestyle you choose and not be "house poor".
Learn About Your New Area - While you are looking, if you have an area you are looking to move to, find out what all you can about that area. Sometimes jobs cause us to move somewhere we have never been before. When I was growing up, my parents settled on a town that was midway between their grown children to retire to. They learned about this town before they moved by subscribing to the local newspaper. Today, we can find out so much about entire cities with a click of a button. The internet can give you information about schools and shopping to the history of a town. Learning ahead can prepare you for what it may be like when you live there. If you are just moving to a different neighborhood, check out which grocery store will be the closest, how far it is to your job or where the schools are. All of these things can help you make the best choice of where you want to live, as well as help you not to just move blindly somewhere. Today we need good WiFi for our lives and no matter how awesome a home in the country may seem, if you can't get a good connection out there, it may be a good idea to switch your home search to somewhere else. Remember to stay realistic when it comes to your lifestyle.
Purge, Clean & Organize Your Life - Another thing you need to start doing TODAY is to get rid of stuff you don't need, clean areas that need it and start organizing not only your belongings (so you can store and pack easily) but organize your life as well. Think ahead as to what all outside things you normally are involved in and maybe push pause on some of those things while you are house hunting. Plan on NOT taking that travelling vacation this year and put that extra money towards your moving budget. Don't commit to heading up large activities that you don't have to so you don't have the extra stress while you are trying to find your new home, packing, cleaning and moving your life somewhere else. Your move will go so much smoother if your commitments are less and you have more time to take to make the right choices for your future.
Prioritize - Along with prioritizing your time, you need to prioritize your list of things you want for a home. It is somewhat of a miracle to find a home with every single thing you want in it. Plus, in today's market, some of the inventory is slim pickens. Just finding a home in your budget is the first hurdle, then you need to know what is most important to have and what is the least because most likely you will have to make those types of choices as you "shop" for your new home. Houses can be made into more of a home when you have it. Not even a brand-new home will have everything perfect. Even if you think you have thought of everything, when you are living in a place, there is always something else you may think of that you decide you need. So, keep your prioritized list handy, my friend.
Adjust YOUR Plans - Here is the biggest one and one of the hardest ones to do--be ready to adjust your plans you have been carefully making for your move as well. Not everything goes exactly the way you want it to go! I have moved so many times you'd think I would have learned this one by now, but even when I put my foot down about things that were important to me, sometimes I had to lift my foot and place it somewhere else instead--and you know what?! I survived it. When you have to let go of your perfect timeline in your head, because your closing gets delayed, or when your renovation isn't quite finished and you need to move in, or when something you thought you really wanted turns out that it wasn't as important as something else turned out to be when you are in your home, you just have to move on. Life is a series of adjustments and moving is no exception to that rule. You do your best to prepare and then something comes along that may throw part of your plan out the window. You must be prepared to adjust your plan into whatever the next plan may be. It's not an easy thing to do, but, if you know that this will come along at some point, maybe it won't be so hard to face when it happens to you!
I hope these tips help you to be more prepared for your big move this year--and as always, if you need a good Realtor, I happen to know a few of the best!
Until Next Time!
Jen Lush--Associate Broker and Mover Extraordinaire