Select A Department:

Courses in this Department

How Ready Are You to Buy a Home?

Determining Your Dream Home and Finding It!

Factory Built Homes Are Worth a Look

Purchase Manufactured Homes with FHA Loan

How to Buy a Foreclosed Home

Pros and Cons of Corner Lots

Know the Neighborhood Before You Buy

Tune in to an Open House on the Radio

Finding a Qualified Broker or Agent

Shopping for a Loan and Choosing a Lender

How to Improve Your Credit

How to Survive the Loan Application Process

Making an Offer and Signing Contracts

Cancel Your Contract in 3 Days

Understanding the Closing/Settlement Process

Choosing Home Inspection and Settlement Professionals

Double Check Your New Home - The Walkthrough

Know Your Consumer Rights

Seniors Have Many Housing Opportunities

Preparing for the Big Day -- Relocating Moving

Make Your Home Your Castle - Cost Effective Redecorating Ideas


House Hunting Tips

Learning the rules.

The Essential Rules

These basics will turn you into a master house hunter even if you already think you are!

1. Location Matters

If you know anything about real estate you know that location is everything. The location of your new home will determine how long your morning and evening commutes are to work, how long it takes for your children to get to school and what school they attend. It will determine whether public transportation is an option for you and whether a trip to the grocery store is a quick errand or a whole day trek. Learn about the demographics of a neighborhood and the profile of thousands of neighborhoods.

Location determines the quality of your life outside the home. Are there movie theaters nearby? What about medical facilities? Can you access the amenities and social services you need? Are you in a crime-ridden area? Your location is everything. Don't be so focused on the features of the home you forget what surrounds it.

2. Know What You Want

The more you know what you want the more likely you are to find it. If you start without any idea of what you are looking for, you are likely to be swayed by features that look good but that won't enhance your life. You will also save yourself a lot of time and arguments if you and your family make a list of what you want and go out looking armed with a checklist of things you need, want and would like if money were no option. Without the list, you are likely to buy a home that meets all your luxury wishes and none of your basic needs.

3. Do Your Homework

Know what is offered. In today's world of Internet access, there is no excuse for not knowing what neighborhoods are out there and how much they cost. Spend some time finding out where the homes are that you can afford (based on the formulas given in the last section). Find out the crime rate for each neighborhood. Find out all the information needed to assess the location. Don't rely on a quick drive-by to find out these facts. The time you spend in your search will determine how happy you are with the results of your search.

4. Get Pre-Approved

Knowing how much you can afford is one thing. Click here to calculate how much house you can afford. Getting pre-approved is another. One shows potential to an agent or broker, the other shows intent and actual ability. Getting pre-approved lets you know exactly what your price range is. It eliminates the guesswork.

5. Take Notes

Whatever you do, don't rely on your memory no matter how good it is. During your search you will be looking at a lot of homes. Don't try to remember each one. Instead take notes-copious notes. You need to be able to remember that the blue house was the one with the gas fireplace and wood floors, while the yellow house had the wood stove and gas appliances. The list of features within a home is endless. If you try to remember which house had which features, you will go crazy. Instead, every time you visit a home, take notes. Start with the address and brief description of the exterior. Then make a list of all the features in the home. The more detail you can add, the better off you will be.

6. Price

As with most things, you cannot determine the quality of one home over another based solely on price. Most people shop for a new home so infrequently that they cannot assess what a price true means. The best way to avoid this trap is to know the markets where you are looking. This means knowing what homes in certain neighborhoods are worth and why. The higher price may be driven by location; it may be driven by size. Know what the determining factor is in the price before you make an offer.

7. Intuition

It may seem a bit "fluffy" to some, but listen to your intuition when buying a home. Your first impression of the home does mean something. If you don't feel comfortable in a home the first time, there is probably a reason even if you can't define it.

8. Have Fun

Yes, buying a home can be extremely stressful. You will be finding a place to make your life for the next few years or more. You will be making what will likely be your single largest investment. There is a lot to make you crazy. But take a deep breath and relax. Armed with the proper information, you can make an informed and rational decision. Take some time to have fun with your search and to imagine what life would be like in each home. Sometimes your imagination will point you to the right choice.

9. Be Prepared to Jump

If you live in a large area with lots of transitory workers, you may be in a seller's market. That means more buyers than homes for sale. If this is the case, you can't afford to take your time and weigh all your options. You need to know what you want going in and have already done your homework on the area. When you find what you want, you must be prepared to jump in and make an offer. If you hesitate in some areas, you will lose that perfect house. Know your region and be prepared to take the house of your dreams before someone else gets the jump on you.

Now That You Know How to Look

What are you going to look for? Let's take a look at your home options.

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