Learning the rules.
The Essential Rules
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
3. Do Your Homework
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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