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Searching for a home in Boston can be a stressful process. You need to find the right home for you and the search can seem endless, sometimes. Not all homes will be the same and there are so many things to consider.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’ve done it before, the process will likely still come with both stress and excitement. Maybe you’re seeking a specific style or specific features within the home. Here are a few of the best ways to ensure you find the right Boston home for you.

Hire the Right Real Estate Agent

A good Boston real estate agent makes a huge difference. Not all agents are the same and some specialize in one area or one type of property. Choosing a real estate agent that matches with what you’re looking for goes a long way to making the search easier.

If you’re seeking a home in the Back Bay, you want an agent with plenty of experience in that area of Boston. Of course, those seeking a home on the luxury market don’t want to hire an agent with very little experience finding luxury buyers the right home. Experience goes a long way and you want to choose an agent with experience in your specific area.

Consider the Budget

The driver of nearly every home purchase is the budget. You want to get pre-approved before you shop so that you will know where you stand. If you’re not quite to this part of the process yet, make sure you check your credit score. This will allow you to see if there are things you can do to make your credit better before applying for a mortgage pre-approval.

You should also take the time to consider your debt-to-income ratio. If it’s over 43%, you want to pay off some debts to get it lower before shopping for a home. Most lenders want to see a DTI under 43% and those willing to work with you above that figure may want a larger down payment or a higher interest rate.

Boston Home

Along with looking at what a lender can do for you, it’s important to know your own budget. Just because you’re pre-approved for an $800K loan doesn’t mean you have to or should shop for an $800K house. Know what you can afford monthly and consider all the costs including taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance.

The last budget concern to consider is the down payment. Putting 20% down is ideal as you’ll avoid paying private mortgage insurance. However, if this isn’t possible, know what you can put down and understand how much PMI will cost each month.

Create a Needs and Wants List

A needs and wants list will help to ensure you don’t look at properties that won’t work for you. This list helps guide your real estate agent to choose properties that check off as many boxes as possible.

The needs portion of the list should be the non-negotiables. This may include things, such as three-bedrooms or more, a separate laundry room, two floors, etc.

The wants portion of the list are things you may give up if you get most of what you want. This portion of the list may include a fenced yard, large front porch area, kitchen island and other features you can live without but would like in the home.

Once you’ve created this list, share it with your real estate agent. They can use your needs and wants list to find the properties that fit your needs and have some or all of the wants you listed.

Choose a Location or Locations

The final step you should take to ensure you find the perfect Boston home for you is choosing the right location or locations to shop within. You want to narrow it down to one to three neighborhoods you know you can afford and work for you on as many levels as possible.

Consider the school district, the county, the amenities, the attractions, and the entire area. You want to make sure you’re close to the places you will frequent and you can get to work pretty easily.

Buying a home in Boston isn’t easy and finding the right home for you is a process. Hiring a good real estate agent is step one, but there’s still plenty of other steps to do. You want to go through all of the steps above and speak to your agent about anything else that might help.

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