There’s no denying the truth – the real estate market can be complicated. As such, regardless of whether you’re a first-time or experienced homebuyer, you’ll want to do everything you can to prepare for the process of purchasing a new residence.

So what does it take to ensure you can land your dream home in any real estate segment? Here are three tips for both first-time and experienced homebuyers:

1. Understand the Speed of the Real Estate Market.

A newly listed residence may sell only a few hours after it reaches the real estate market. Thus, you’ll want to stay on top of houses as they become available in cities and towns where you’d like to relocate; otherwise, you risk missing out on what could be your perfect residence.

Remember, the real estate market moves fast, and homebuyers who hesitate likely will struggle to score their dream homes.

To accelerate the homebuying process, you’ll want to get pre-approved for a mortgage. By doing so, you can submit an offer without having to commit significant time and resources to secure financing for your dream home down the line.

Also, if you’re interested in a home and feel comfortable with a residence, don’t wait too long before you submit an offer. Because if you do, you could lose your dream home to another homebuyer.

2. View Any Home Purchase as an Investment.

Although you have no plans to purchase a home and sell it at a later date, the future remains unpredictable. As a result, you should view any home you check out as a long-term investment and try to find a residence that you believe will increase in value.

Typically, what you pay for a home is unlikely to represent your residence’s total value in five or 10 years. But homebuyers who view a home purchase as an investment will understand that a residence’s value will fluctuate over time and dedicate the time and resources to maximize a home’s value, too.

Look beyond a home itself to determine whether you are comfortable with a residence as a long-term investment.

For instance, if you buy a newly constructed home in an up-and-coming area, the residence’s value may rise quickly in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, if you purchase a “fixer-upper,” aka a home in need of significant repairs, you may need to consider setting extra money aside to complete home improvement projects to help optimize this residence’s value.

3. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent.

Although you’ve done plenty of research about the housing market, it never hurts to have an experienced real estate agent at your disposal.

A real estate agent is happy to assist you during every step of the homebuying process. That way, if you encounter any homebuying hurdles, this real estate professional can help you overcome these challenges without delay.

Employ a real estate agent who possesses comprehensive industry experience and who makes you feel comfortable and confident as you explore the real estate market. And ultimately, your real estate agent should be able to help you find your dream home.

Looking to purchase your first home? Not sure if you want to purchase a single-family home or a condo? What you purchase will be determinant on your thoughts about the below information. Take a look at the various differences between single-family homes and condos and decide the pros and cons for yourself.

Location: Based on your price range, you will typically be able to purchase a condo in a location where you would otherwise not be able to purchase a home. But in return, you are often getting less square footage, closer by neighbors, and smaller outdoor living space. If you sacrifice a downtown city location for a location right outside of the city, you will get more for your money. Do you want to be able to walk to restaurants, shops and maybe work or is a home with free parking a more attractive option to you? It all depends on what is most important to you.

Privacy: There will be less privacy when owning a condo versus a home, as neighbors are much closer. Condos typically share a wall with one another, some on just one side and some on both sides. This is an important detail to take into consideration when deciding between a condo and single-family home.

Additional Costs: HOA fees or homeowner association fees are monthly fees that condo owners must pay. The fees cover things such as utilities, reserve and contingency funds, amenities, maintenance and repairs, which includes lawn care, snow removal, trash removal, exterior upkeep, etc. These costs vary depending on the condo amenities and policies. However, it’s important to be aware that there is the possibility that these fees increase if there is not enough in the reserve to cover unforeseen costs. When owning a home, there are no HOA fees. This means that a homeowner needs to be cognizant of the additional costs of owning a home. Will you purchase a lawnmower and snow blower or hire a service? Will you have the additional funds to pay for unforeseen expenses? These are important questions to consider.

Restrictions: Owning a condo has some limitations as there will be restrictions that would not exist when owning your own home (unless you purchase a historical home). There are often restrictions dealing with the exterior of your home, parking restrictions as well as having certain barbecues on decks.

Condos are an attractive choice for those looking for a low maintenance lifestyle. And owning and maintaining a home will take more work on the homeowner’s part. It’s important to figure out exactly what you want out of a home before you decide on one or the other, but knowing the difference between a single-family home and a condo is a first step.

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