Let the excitement begin! Whether you are searching online, hitting open houses or searching with a REALTOR, hunting for your dream home is both a science and an art. Here are some tips that have made the home buying process an exciting experience for our buyers:
STEP 1 – DEVELOP YOUR WISH LIST
Knowing what you need and want in your home is important. What are your must-haves, your nice-to-haves, and your deal breakers? How many bedrooms do you need? What kind of outdoor space do you want? What about counter-tops, appliances and floors? You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want. Of course, location will be a big decision – what neighborhood makes you feel at home? Check out our Neighborhood Guides for some insider scoop on the hottest neighborhoods.
Of course, in hot markets, compromise is a big part of the process. Almost everyone needs to compromise on something, and it usually comes down to 4 things: size, finishes, location and price. What’s most important to you? Would you rather live in a bigger house or closer to downtown? Are you comfortable with spending more money for a renovated house or could you rather buy a cheaper house and do the renovations yourself? Would you consider living on a busy street for more affordably in a better neighborhood with access to better schools?
STEP 2 – PICK YOUR TEAM
Buying a home will likely be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make – but don’t worry, you don’t need to do it alone. You’ll want to start by picking a Great Real Estate Agent who works exclusively for YOU. You’ll also need a lender to take you through your financing options, and a lawyer to help with the legal aspects of the purchase. There are thousands of professionals out there (of varying quality), so ask your friends and family for recommendations, do your research and don’t be afraid to interview multiple people.
STEP 3 – SEARCHING FOR A HOME ONLINE
You aren’t alone: 95% of home buyers start their search online. While there are endless real estate websites out there, here are the ones you should consider:
Realtor.com is the website owned by the real estate association. It pulls available properties for sale directly from the system that agents use, the MLS (multiple listing services). realtor.com is usually a day or two behind what’s happening in the market, but a great tool to explore what’s for sale and start to get a feel for what’s available.
The CTHomeAdvisors.com home search tool – Of course we’re biased, but our home search tool pulls home listings directly from the MLS every 15 mins and includes a lot more information than what you’ll find on realtor.com. You can set up a custom home search for yourself that will automatically e-mail you listings that match whatever criteria you set, so you never miss a listing. Click here to check it out or set up a property search for yourself.
Custom Listings from a REALTOR Another way to get quick and easy access to what’s available is to have a real estate agent e-mail you daily listings of available houses and condos that match what you’re looking for.
Tips for looking for a home online:
- Keep an open mind. Photos aren’t always representative of what the house looks like in real-life.
- Don’t always believe the description and read between the lines. ‘Ready to put your decorator touch on it’ means it needs updating. And ‘cute’’ often means small.
- Remember that the asking price is very different than the sale price. In a hot market houses often sell for far more than the listing price. If you want to know actual sale prices.
- If you’re shopping for a condo, keep in mind that what’s included in the maintenance fees varies from building to building, so it isn’t easy to compare condos. A lower maintenance fee might still mean more monthly costs if it doesn’t include heat and electricity.
- Take some time to learn how to read an MLS listing – all those acronyms are guaranteed to confuse you.
STEP 4 – HOUSE HUNTING IN REAL-LIFE
This is your opportunity to get a feel for the different neighborhoods, refine your wish list, and ask questions. While a wish list seems kind of scientific and is a useful tool in deciding which properties to visit, the truth of the matter is that most people walk into their perfect home and just feel it. Of course, it helps when it satisfies your needs and wants too, but don’t underestimate the power of ‘just knowing’.
You can visit homes for sale in real-life with your real estate agent or by attending an open house. Keep in mind that not all properties will have open houses, so working with a real estate agent you trust the only way to guarantee that you’ll be able to see the houses you want to see on your schedule.
Tips for looking at homes in real-life:
- Make-a-plan. Whether you are looking in a big city or in a small town, chances are you’re like most people, you have a few target neighborhoods in mind. Try to focus on one neighborhood at a time and don’t forget about traffic and the time it’ll take you to parallel park.
- Car pool. If you’re looking at houses with a real estate agent, don’t let them drive you around. You will get a better real-life feel of neighborhood when you are driving. If you’re checking out open houses, try walking or biking to them.
- Don’t just focus on the house focus on the neighborhood. Drive around the neighborhood. Locate the schools, parks and grocery stores. Take a walk down the street and check out the neighbors. Make a point of going to a cafe, restaurant or pub in the area.
- Vary the time of day that you house hunt. Everything looks better when the sun is shining, but it’s important to get a feel for the house and the neighborhood during the day AND at night.
- Experience the bad with the good. Every neighborhood has its drawbacks, so plan to experience them. Thinking of buying a house near the railroad tracks? Check it out during rush hour when most of the trains are running. Thinking of buying in a hip, popular area? Make sure to check it out when there are tons of tourists and locals jamming the streets.
- Take notes and photos. It’s surprising how quickly you can forget the first house you saw. In fact, we have been giving our clients a table that they can use to take notes and photos of every property. And no, you’re probably not allowed to take photos of other people’s houses, but it happens all the time. Just don’t go posting them online.
- See past the gross. You’ll probably be surprised to find out how some people live, but don’t let someone’s bad decorating styles, outdated tastes and lack of housekeeping get in the way of finding your perfect home.
- Don’t fall in love with the seller’s stuff. This happens all the time and that beautifully staged home may not look nearly as great with all your IKEA stuff in it. Try to imagine your furniture and style.
HOW THE Home Advisors TEAM CAN HELP YOU HUNT FOR A HOUSE
- We’ll help you match what you want with the greatest opportunity for ROI. Together we’ll examine your needs, wants and must-haves to create a picture of your ideal home or investment property.
- We’ll stay on top of new properties in the best neighborhoods as they come on and off the market. We’ll send you daily listings of what’s available and monitor what’s happening, as it happens.
- We’ll be your house-hunting partner on YOUR schedule. We can take you to see any property that’s for sale and sometimes even ones that aren’t.
- We’ll save you time. We can preview properties on your behalf and screen what is or is not for you, saving you time and hassle. We can send you video profiles of what we’re seeing – or better yet, you can follow us streaming live on the web.