Once you’ve determined your price range, it’s time to start looking for a home. But where to look? What can you expect to find? Most likely, no home meets everything you are looking for. But the home you ultimately buy should meet as many expectations as possible. A key point of the whole process is to narrow down your search and not waste time looking at all the houses.
Where do I start?
Start by making a list of the expectations you have for your new home. Some items on the list will describe the interior, amenities, and size of the home. Location, lifestyle, and availability should also be on the list. The distance you must travel to work, the distance to public transportation, and the quality of the schools in the area are all topics that might be on your list.
Your list of wants and needs is a reflection of you, the future owner. Take the time to make the list, review it, and update it throughout the entire home buying process. The more items on the list your new home have, the happier you will be when you live in it.
What are my options?
Before finding the right new home, you will need to decide what type of home you want. There are a large number of homes to choose from, the most typical are
- Single-family Home
- Multifamily housing
- Property for sale at a low price that needs repair
Choosing a location
Once you have decided what type of home you want to buy, the next step is to choose the location. There are several issues to consider:
- How far are you willing to travel to work or how far is freeway access?
- Will it be close to shopping malls, churches, daycare centers, and recreation facilities?
- Is there public transportation nearby that could eliminate the need for a second car?
- Are public schools meeting the educational needs of your children or will you have to enroll them in private schools?
As you answer these questions, you can narrow down the number of locations to look for a home. Again, prioritize the attributes that are most important to you, both in terms of location and the home itself. Would you be willing to trade a bigger yard for freeway access, public transportation for shops and restaurants, shorter commuting distance to work for better public schools? With your list of wants and needs in hand, you will be better equipped to search and identify the locations that best suit the lifestyle you aspire to.
Tips for finding a home
When you start visiting open houses and other properties for sale, keep the burnout factor in mind. It is not just about being physically tired; it is that, after a certain time, all the houses begin to look the same. So remember the following:
- Take a notepad and a map with you. Mark the location of each house on the map and write down any special features in your notepad.
- If the landlord offers you a fact sheet, keep it, even if you are not interested in the house at the time. Later, you may think about that home again and find it more interesting than at first glance.
- Never see more than three homes at a time. After the third, he no longer looks closely; he just goes through them and does not pay attention to the details that would help him find the home of his dreams.
- If you are going to see a lot of houses, take long breaks. In the morning, visit three properties before stopping for lunch. See three more, stop, and do something different. See three more in the afternoon. Nine homes in a day are the maximum capacity of almost any prospective buyer. Even with nine, the characteristics of one home will begin to blend in with those of others.
- Bring a camera and take photos of the houses you like. Pictures of the interior and exterior will refresh your memory and help you remember the details of that home. It is common for agents or owners to hand out photocopied photos, be sure to take copies with you whenever they are available.
- Make a simple drawing of the floors of the houses that you consider to be the finalists of your choice.
- Ask questions. Many buyers worry that the agent will consider them fools if they ask questions. But remember, there are no dumb questions!
- As a first-time homebuyer, you want to know as much as you can about each property. Oftentimes, a question about plumbing, heating or cooling systems, taxes, the age of the home, or recent repairs will lead to other questions. You may find troubling issues in a specific home that initially appeared to have no problems.
Remember, it is much better to know the problems of a home before you buy it than to discover them when you already own it.
How do I find the right house?
There are a number of resources that help you find the right home. For example:
- Local newspapers
- Drive around the area and look for “For Sale” signs
- Talk and work with real estate agents
- Look at the bulletin boards in the office, in the neighborhoods, or around where you are thinking of buying.
- Talk to friends, acquaintances, and co-workers
- Search the Internet
If you decide to search for the home yourself, gather information on various locations where you can afford to buy. Find out what neighborhoods offer in terms of schools, public transportation, shopping, safety, recreation, and job accessibility.
It would be easier if you contact a real estate agent. In a single chart, a real estate agent can give you information that may take you several weeks to gather on your own. Agents who specialize in real estate can be wonderful sources of information. However, when it comes time to buy a home, remember that real estate agents work for the seller, not the buyer.
The agent can select homes included in a Multiple Listing of Homes for Sale, a computer system that lists all listed properties for sale by market area. In a few minutes, a real estate agent can do an online property search for a prospective home buyer.
Another resource for buying a home is a real estate broker. Unlike a typical real estate agent, the broker works exclusively for the buyer. The buyer may pay their broker directly or may receive a portion of the commission earned by the property seller’s agent. In general, the payment is agreed in advance, when negotiated with the buyer’s broker.