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5 Tasks to Do Before House Hunting in the Hudson Valley

House hunting can be exhilarating, exhausting, confusing, and frustrating all at once. Purchasing a home is a big decision, and big decisions sometimes come with mental and emotional challenges. So use the unexpected downtime this spring to do some homework online and get ready for the successful househunting season as soon as the coronavirus emergency passes by.

5 Tasks to Do Before House Hunting in Upstate New York
by Dino Alexander, Licensed RE Broker, CEO Alexander Maxwell Realty

One of the ways to lessen the blow of any challenge is to be prepared for it, and house hunting is no different. Of course, you’re not going to wake up one morning and start touring homes, so there is some forethought. But it still helps to get some things out of the way before you hit the road looking at homes. Here are four tasks you should do before house hunting in the Hudson Valley.

Pick a location.

It might sound basic, but there’s one thing you likely won’t ever be able to change about a home, and that’s its location. You can find what you might think is the perfect home for you, but if it’s somewhere you don’t really want to live, you might not ever be happy. Would you prefer a commuter location like Beacon, NY just an hour away from Manhattan by Metronorth, or are you up for more square footage and a longer commute to Ulster County? 

Photo Story by the Best Hudson Valley Photographer Maxwell Alexander - Luxury Summer Paradise in Rock Tavern, New York
Photo Story by the Best Hudson Valley Photographer Maxwell Alexander – Luxury Summer Paradise in Rock Tavern, New York

Picking a locale or two also helps you narrow down your choices of homes. Or, depending on how competitive the market is for buyers, widening your geographic area can increase your choices.

Get your credit in order.

There’s nothing worse than shopping for a home only to find out you can’t qualify for a loan to buy it. Also, although mortgage rates are rock-bottom, you won’t get the best rate if your credit is not great, which means a higher monthly payment

Before you start house hunting in the Hudson valley, check your credit score at one of the free websites out there. If it seems low, get a copy of your credit report and make sure it’s accurate. Dispute any mistakes, and clean things up in general if you can. It’s worth the effort.

It’s also worth the effort to ask for a pre-approval letter from a lender. Many sellers won’t even consider an offer made without one, and it gives you an idea of what a bank thinks you can afford.

Set a budget.

A pre-approval letter from a bank will give you an idea of what size loan you might qualify for, but it probably shouldn’t automatically set your homebuying budget.

Photo Story by the Best Hudson Valley Photographer Maxwell Alexander - Luxury Summer Paradise in Rock Tavern, New York
Photo Story by the Best Hudson Valley Photographer Maxwell Alexander – Luxury Summer Paradise in Rock Tavern, New York

You’ll have to take into account your comfort level with a monthly payment amount in the context of all your other monthly obligations. Your lender’s pre-approval letter doesn’t factor in the new car you might soon need, or the student loan you’ll take out for your Master’s program. It’s important to think about all your current expenses, and what expenses will arise in the foreseeable future. The old adage is “buy as much house as you can afford,” but there is such a thing as being house poor.

Set your deal-breakers and luxuries.

Before looking at homes, it helps to have a clear idea of what your new place must include and what you’d like but could probably live without. Don’t be afraid to make a list of deal-breakers – those features you absolutely cannot do without.

Photo Story by the Best Hudson Valley Photographer Maxwell Alexander - Luxury Summer Paradise in Rock Tavern, New York
Photo Story by the Best Hudson Valley Photographer Maxwell Alexander – Luxury Summer Paradise in Rock Tavern, New York

The way to frame this might be categorizing things as “needs” and “wants.” You might want, for example, quartz countertops, but you need three bedrooms. Buying a home almost always comes with compromises, and if you go in not knowing what you’re willing to compromise on, you could end up unhappy down the road.

And finally, find and work with the best real estate agents to make your Hudson Valley househunt a great success!

Hudson Valley is one of the most competitive real estate markets in the country and buying a home here could be the biggest and most complex financial transaction you will make in your life. It is crucial to work with the best real estate agents in the Hudson Valley. As Your Realtors® and trusted real estate professionals Almax Realty agents will be your strong advocates who will help you to navigate the process and provide emotional support that you need throughout the journey of finding and acquiring a home.  We are not just experts in the local Hudson Valley real estate market, but also experienced real estate investors with a strategic approach and technological advantage, and we are ready to guide you through all the practical details and potential obstacles that may occur during the purchase process.

House hunting is a big job, especially in a competitive market like Upsate New York/Hudson Valley. It will have its ups and downs. It will likely excite you and stress you out at the same time. But doing these few simple things before hitting the road might help keep some of the stress out of it.