Looking at homes can be an exciting adventure. Once you decide you’re purchasing a home, window shopping becomes a more serious venture. Completing the preapproval process with your lender before beginning the serious home search is so crucial because some homes that may be “dream homes” can be out of the realistic budget. A pre-approval letter helps narrow the home search into a reasonable price point, helping real estate agents provide a list of attainable homes in the desired area. Now that the loan process has begun and the agent attained it is time to shop for your home! Here are some tips to narrow the search even further to the ideal home.
Know What You Want
This may seem like an obvious statement, but dreaming of a home and purchasing a functional home in the correct price range is a different story. Make a list of your priorities and deal breakers in a home. For example, a buyer may need 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms to accommodate family members, but cannot have the bedrooms on different floors due to smaller children in the household. This narrows the search for you and the agent. A large backyard may be desired, but a fenced backyard is a must which may lead a buyer to accept a smaller backyard. These specifics can make all the difference in a home search.
Additional criteria may also come into play including specific neighborhoods desired, the safety of areas, the commute to and from work, school districts and future growth in an area. What may be a 20-minute commute today, could be a 45-minute commute in 10 years depending on area growth.
The combination of this criteria can take the search from hundreds of homes down, to as low as 5-10 homes. This can lead to actual home viewings and the start of the final decisions.
Begin on the Internet
There are numerous websites to start the online home search. Some of the most popular are Realtor, Zillowand Trulia. These sites pull from real estate databases throughout the United States to populate area listings. Realtor is often the most up to date as its feed pulls from MLS databases. If you prefer mobile apps, Trulia, Homesnap, Zillow, Redfin and Dwellr are all popular mobile apps that can instantly pull the latest listings for the buyer on the road. This is a great option for buyers who are driving through neighborhoods who wish to attain instant information about a specific home.
Pictures Are Not Worth a Thousand Words
Pictures of a home online may be beautiful, but pictures can be doctored and photoshopped with ease in today’s technological-centric world. Pay attention to the description of the home for any keywords that suggest it may have issues. Also, if a home has been on the market for an extended period that is longer than normal for that specific area, there is likely a reason. Have the agent reach out and try to determine what the real issues are.
Trust Your Agent
Once the search is narrowed, lean on the agent for their expertise and area knowledge. A home may be beautiful, but could back up to a freeway or some other issue that only an experience agent can identify. These issues can affect the resale value and need to be identified before proceeding. Remember, this is why choosing an agent that is an area expert is a must.
Attend Open Houses with Intention
Search for Open Houses within your price point to view homes in person that are like the criteria desired. Viewing homes in person can change the desired criteria compared to what a buyer thinks will work mentally. Ask the agent to send notifications of upcoming Open Houses as well as check online and in social media.
Arrive to Open Houses early to walk the neighborhood and even potentially meet some of the neighbors. Getting to know the neighborhood you potentially may live in can help in the decision process and eliminate homes as well. Envision yourself as part of that specific community.
While at the Open House, prep the following questions for the agent on duty.
- Have they received any offers?
- When does the seller want to move?
- When is the seller wanting to close?
- Is the price negotiable?
- How many days has the house been on the market?
- Any price changes since on the market?
- Any major issues or necessary renovations?
- What are the average utility costs?
Narrowed the search and are in love with a property? Congrats! It is now time to put in an offer on a home and negotiate a selling price. Good luck!