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Originally published Friday, August 9, 2013 at 8:06 PM

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Market matters: Important initial steps for today’s homebuyer

Purchasing a new home is a major life decision. It can be fun and exciting, but also a bit scary. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most out of this process.

Special to NWhomes

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OK, you and your family have decided that you’re moving. Now what?

Purchasing a new home is a major life decision. It can be fun and exciting, but also a bit scary. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most out of this process.

Start your search online. A recent survey from the National Association of Realtors says that 90 percent of all homebuyers used the Internet as an information source. Other surveys suggest that as many as 80 percent of all prospective homeowners start their search on the Web before they even get in their cars and start driving around. And why not? There is a plethora of timely and accurate information available that will help you determine where you want to live, how much you can spend, current home values and other important data.

Get to know your lender. It will save time and aggravation if you select a good lender early on and get prequalified for a home loan. One simple way is to ask four or five friends for their personal recommendations. Then interview a couple of lenders and make a decision. While they offer similar programs, you need to find a lender that is reputable, as well as a loan representative whom you trust.

Find an agent. Once you have narrowed down your search on the Web and met with a lender, seek out a professional real estate agent to help. If you are considering new construction, licensed, on-site agents are in daily contact with builders and can help you with your purchase. Or you may choose to hire your own buyer’s agent. Either way, this transaction is simply too big and too important to manage without help. And remember: The seller pays the commissions, not you.

Embrace presales. There aren’t very many finished homes on the marketplace today. This limits selection, which isn’t a good thing. But buying a home that’s yet to be constructed or only partially built can be a hoot. In some cases you will have a chance to personalize the design or some features. And in an environment of escalating prices and rising interest rates, you can lock in tomorrow’s value today.

Lighten up. Finally, have some fun looking for a new home. Gather information, be methodical and start getting excited about a new chapter in your life.

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