House Hunting 101

If you read last week’s post, you saw that I talked all about the renting process. If you’re in a spot where you’re financially ready to do more than rent and want to invest in a home, or even if you’re still a renter but you want to look ahead at the process of owning a home– this is the article for you! Here are some of my insider Realtor tips to getting started on your hunt for the perfect home:

Get pre-approved for a loan

This is a very important first step that most people think they can push off til later. This will tell you how much home you can afford before you go out and look and get heartbroken by something that is just a little too far out of your reach. Compile your W2s, tax returns, and other personal info and shop around for a good rate with a few different lenders. This won’t put a ding in your credit score, contrary to popular belief. Once you find a lender you like with good terms, get a pre-approval letter (which you’ll submit with your offer on a home, so they know you’re serious).

Find a Realtor and get set up on auto-emails

The very first step is to find a Realtor who can connect you to homes as soon as they hit the market, or better yet, homes that have not even been listed yet. Common sites like Zillow and do not update right away and in some markets, that can mean missing out. A good place to find a Realtor is an Open House of a home you may already be interested in. It’s a good way to meet them face-to-face and get a sense of their personality and if it’d be a good fit working together. Otherwise, search for a Realtor in your area on Google and make sure they have good reviews! Be very clear about your criteria and ask them to set you up on these emails.

Narrow down your homes with a wish list, but be realistic

Write down a list of your absolute must haves. For me personally, I could never buy something that didn’t have garage parking. However, for some buyers, they think they want to be right downtown, but have a large backyard. Or they want a move-in ready home with a brand new kitchen for under $200k. The most important thing is to make sure your wish list does not contradict itself. You likely won’t be downtown and have a yard or have certain things that don’t. For instance, an appropriate list of must haves might look like:

  • Under $300,000
  • 2 miles from the hospital
  • 3 bedrooms minimum
  • 2 bathrooms minimum
  • Laundry room
  • Attached garage parking

These are your non-negotiables. This should not be a long list and sometimes they will get thrown out the window if you find something that you fall in love with. Your mind will likely change through the searching process, and thats okay. Narrow it down as much as possible to homes that you truly think could suit you well. Don’t just take a tour for the sake of it because too many showings can cloud the properties together in your head and can be quite confusing. I would recommend only seeing 3 homes in one viewing session.

Take notes during your tour

Again, seeing many homes can cloud all of the properties together in your brain. It’s important to be organized and bring a little notepad where you can separate all of the places and jot down your thoughts. Try to right as much as you can.

Below are some helpful questions to ask while on your tour so you make sure you don’t miss anything:

Ask these 10 questions

  1. How old are the appliances? (This should include kitchen appliances/washer/dryer/water heater/furnace)
  2. How much is the average utility cost?
  3. How much is the monthly HOA (if there is one)?
  4. Has there ever been problems with water in the basement or anywhere else in the home?
  5. When was the home built?
  6. Have their been any upgrades or renovations in the past few years?
  7. How old is the roof?
  8. How long has the home been on the market?
  9. Has the price changed since it has been listed?
  10. How close is this to the nearest ___ ?

I hope that this advice leads you to the home that is perfect for you. Happy hunting!

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