Now that you have decided to buy a home, it’s time to begin your search. The home buying process can be a bit daunting, but these house hunting tips should make the process more efficient and enjoyable.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage has multiple benefits. A pre-approval helps you determine your budget by providing a range of how much space you can afford and what those mortgage payments will look like. Be clear up front with your budget (and stick to it) so you don’t waste time falling in love with a house that isn’t financially feasible. A pre-approval also gives you an advantage in the fast-paced real estate market—it shows the seller that you are a serious buyer and having it will give you an advantage in the case that there are multiple offers on the house.
You Have a Real Estate Agent (or You Should)… Use Them
While house hunting, keep in mind that your real estate agent is an expert in the field and has immense amounts of knowledge and resources at your disposal. Your agent will know what is on the market or what is coming soon, and which homes meet your criteria and which do not. Your agent can get you property details and asking price information, as well as comparables for real estate transactions in the neighborhood in which you are looking. Your home purchase is likely the largest single investment you will make, so you want it to be founded on accurate information and wise advice.
Must Have vs. Wish List
While it is important to keep an open mind during the house hunting process, it is just as crucial to know which details you are not willing to budge on. Oftentimes, location is non-negotiable, whether it’s because you want to stay in the same community that you are currently living, you are looking for the strongest school district, or want to be near work or family. But also consider details and features that may be negotiable that will help you to narrow down your search, including the number of bedrooms, square footage, garages, storage space, and yard size.
An open house or showing on a house is your opportunity to learn as much as you can about the house—so take advantage of it! Take your time and don’t get distracted by fancy new features or fabulous decor. Rather, focus on the “nuts and bolts” of the house by opening closets and cabinets, check out the home’s heating and cooling systems and roof, and look at the overall quality of the house and its features. Take notes on the amenities, the condition of the house, improvements that may be necessary, and your overall impression of the house and the neighborhood. When you look at multiple houses, it will be helpful to be able to look back at these notes to determine which house may deserve a second look.
Don’t Expect Perfection
You are likely not going to find the perfect sized house, in the perfect neighborhood, with every amenity that you are looking for in your dream home. Certainly don’t settle for something that you don’t like or doesn’t meet your needs, but understand you will probably never find “the perfect house.” You’ve already determined what you are not willing to budge on, now be reasonable about the rest … and know that the ugly wallpaper can easily be replaced.
Get to Know the Community
During the home buying process, there are few things as important as location, location, location. Where your house is located, what the neighborhood is like, how strong the schools are, and the compatibility you have with the overall community will significantly impact how you feel about your home and how long you will stay. Drive around during different times of the day and the week to get a feel for the personality of the neighborhood. Are there a lot of kids or no kids? Is it quiet or bustling? Is it well-lit with sidewalks or dark and secluded?
Whether looking for your first home or your forever home, follow these house hunting tips to keep you on track and focused on your final goal—finding your way home.
For more tips, stay tuned on our blog.