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Homeownership can often feel like a far-off fantasy until suddenly it isn’t anymore. Maybe you finally got that promotion at work, perhaps you’ve come in with some money from an inheritance, or maybe you’ve just looked at your life and realized that now is the time to buy. Whatever the reason for your sudden interest in all things real estate, it’s undoubtedly an intoxicating feeling as you pour over all the available listings, dream about the future, and imagine the day when you have the key to your own home in hand.
But even if you do have the desire to make homeownership a reality, as well as enough in the bank for a down payment, buying a home can still make for a pretty big commitment. Not everyone is ready for that, even when they think they are.
With that in mind, it’s worth asking yourself whether you’re truly ready for homeownership or if you’re just window shopping.
Signs that You’re Window ShoppingSigns that You’re Window Shopping
You don’t know what you’re looking forYou don’t know what you’re looking for
A clear sign of a window shopper is that they don’t know where they want to live, what type of home they’re looking for, or what their preferred needs and wants are. Granted, it’s fine to take a look around and see what’s on offer in different neighborhoods. But if after several weeks or months of searching, you still haven’t narrowed down your search, then maybe your heart just isn’t set on committing just yet.
You don’t have a buyer’s agentYou don’t have a buyer’s agent
About 86 percent of buyers use a real estate agent or broker, and for a good reason, since an agent can help you narrow down your search, find unlisted properties, and negotiate for a favorable deal. As such, not having an agent by your side when you visit potential homes is a tell-tale sign to both you and the sales agent that you aren’t a serious buyer. That said, you may simply feel that you want to go it alone but considering that NYC buyers don’t pay out-of-pocket for the agent’s commission, it may seem silly not to use one.
You’ve seen the same property more than twice.You’ve seen the same property more than twice.
In real estate circles, there’s a common saying that goes, “one showing is good; two showings are great.” But if you find yourself going back to the same property again and again without a solid offer, then that can be a sign that you’re too shy to pull the trigger. Even if you do make a few verbal offers, that still counts for nothing in NYC since real estate offers here are non-binding until both parties have signed the purchasing contract.
Signs that You’re Ready to BuySigns that You’re Ready to Buy
You ask a lot of questions at every showingYou ask a lot of questions at every showing
Serious buyers have done their research and know what kind of questions they should ask at a showing. For instance, if the property is a condo unit, you’ll want to know what the sublet policy is, whether there’s a flip tax, what the building’s financials are like, whether there’s a no-pets policy and a host of other questions on the unit and the building itself. Every property type will have its own list of questions that you’ll want to ask at the showing, and if you come prepared, then that’s a good sign you’ve thought everything through carefully.
You bring friends or family alongYou bring friends or family along
Home tends to be the most important purchase decision in a person’s life. As such, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion on a property from a family member or trusted friend. If you find yourself doing this with a few choice properties, then you’re likely very serious about making an offer better still, if you’re bringing along a contractor to assess a fixer-upper that you’ve got your eye on.
You know what you can afford and have secured financing.You know what you can afford and have secured financing.
Nothing says a serious buyer quite like a mortgage preapproval letter. The fact that you’ve gone to the effort of having your financial information and credit history verified shows that you’re ready to make a real offer once the right property turns up. That kind of preparation is also a good sign to sellers and, in a fast market, can mean the difference between getting the home you’ve always wanted or watching someone else walk away with the keys.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
It’s worth noting that there’s nothing wrong with window shopping for a home. It’s a phase that every buyer goes through as they look through what’s available, what the prices are like, and decide on the type of home they’d like to live in. just don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re a serious buyer if you’re still showing all the signs of a window shopper after months of searching.
You can always delay your home purchase until another time when you feel more committed, but at least when you do, you’ll have a clearer idea of what you’re looking for and what you can afford.