Here are some tips to help you get started. Check out tips local to your region.
- Drive your new (or prospective) neighborhood at different times; figure out what’s it like.
- When you are searching and get closer to extending an offer, don’t move, don’t quit your job, don’t buy a new car. Sometimes negotiations can take awhile and you want to make sure you haven’t made any drastic life changes until everything is final.
- If you have to resell soon, don’t buy an unusual house.
- Even if the quality of the school district doesn’t matter to you now, remember it might someday matter to another buyer.
- Brand new homes may be lower in maintenance costs, but they can be higher in out-of-pocket expenses.
- There are no perfect homes. Be ready to make compromises or concessions. Know what’s most important to you and give on things that aren’t. 80/10/10
- Supply and demand is a critical issue. Be ready to move quickly when you find what you want.
- Pay attention to floor plans. Changing layouts of rooms can be costly.
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage before making an offer.
- Be an educated buyer. Learn as much as you can about the market before you buy.
- Always make your offer contingent on a home inspection – it’s money well spent.
- Compare mortgages – artificially low rates could have hidden costs. When interest rates are low, go for a fixed mortgage.
- Redoing kitchens and baths can be expensive, check these out carefully.
- Buy the best home you can afford in the best neighborhood you can afford. You are almost always better off with the least expensive home in the area rather than the most expensive.
- Pay attention to the original listing date of the properties you look at: sellers tend to be more flexible the longer the home has been on the market. Don’t be fooled by days on market. Be sure to have an agent check the listing history as the days on market field displayed may not be the cumulative days on market including previous listing periods.
- Be honest and open with your agent. He or she works for you and can best help you if they have a good understanding of your needs. Don’t get frustrated if the first house you put an offer on doesn’t work out. If it’s meant to be, it will!
You’ll know the right home for you when you see it and it will have very little to do with logic – don’t ask how that works, it just does.
Browse the rest of the Buyer’s Guide, including learning the best first steps to take.