House hunting is an exciting time. When you’re finally ready to buy a home, the next logical step would be to scope out different homes on the market in order to find the one that you fall in love with and meets all your needs. But as fun as it can be to hop from one home to another, it’s also a task that you need to make the most of.
When visiting homes on the market, be sure to keep the following in mind.
1. Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage
How do you know how much you can afford to pay for a home? Are you planning to just arbitrarily visit homes regardless of their price? Not only is this a waste of time it can also set you up for disappointment.
But you can make the most of your time house-hunting by getting pre-approved for a mortgage. While this is not a guarantee that you will definitely get approved, it is a foot in the door.
Your mortgage broker will assess your current finances on a surface level and will pre-approve you for a certain loan amount. From there, you’ll have a better idea of what price range you should focus on when searching for a new home.
2. Hire a Seasoned Real Estate Professional
Once you’ve made a visit to your mortgage broker, the next professional that obviously needs to be recruited is a real estate agent. Hiring a professional with experience in the neighborhoods you’re interested in will give you a leg up in the process.
They’ll make sure you spend your time wisely searching for homes that match your criteria and will help you make sense of potentially complex real estate contracts. Your agent will be sure to include the right contingencies to protect you and will negotiate on your behalf to help get you the best price possible.
3. Don’t Let Minor Repairs Scare You
Most buyers prefer to buy a home that’s in move-in condition, with nothing to do except move their belongings in. But it’s not uncommon for resale homes to have minor little issues here and there that might need some attention.
Don’t let these little issues deter you from potentially landing a great home at a great price. Try to look past things that can be easily rectified, especially if you love the home and the neighborhood it’s in, and the price fits within your budget. Unless you build the home yourself from scratch and it’s brand new, it’s likely that there may be things that might need some tweaking to make the home perfect.
4. Keep a Look-Out For Signs of Major Problems
While little issues might not be such a big deal, more serious problems could cost you a lot more than you’d care to spend. During your showing appointment, be sure to pay attention to any red flags that could be signs of much bigger issues that you may have to deal with, including the following:
- Musty smells, which could be a sign of water infestation and even mold;
- Stains on ceilings, floors, and walls, which could also point to water problems;
- Uneven floors, ‘sticky’ doors and windows, and large cracks in the foundation wall, which could be signs of a faulty foundation;
- Gnaw marks on trim and other wooden components, which could be a sign of a termite infestation.
Your home inspector will be able to uncover any issues you may not have noticed during your viewings, so be sure to include a home inspection contingency in your real estate agreement.
5. Make a List of Must-Haves
Who wouldn’t love a huge lot, a gorgeous view, 10′ ceilings, granite counters, multiple walk-in closets, and Sub Zero kitchen appliances? While you just might be able to get all of these things, it’s important to be realistic about what your budget can get you. Although there may certainly be things you’d love to have, be sure to differentiate between your “needs” versus your “wants.”
Before you visit your first home, go in armed with a list of absolute must-haves in order for the home to suit your lifestyle. While you may be open to compensating certain traits, others might be ones that you won’t be so open about sacrificing.
6. Scope Out Different Neighborhoods
You might have a good idea of exactly where you’d like to live, but keep an open mind about other communities that you might not have thought about. Your real estate agent may have some neighborhoods in mind for you to check out that they think might be places that would suit your tastes and lifestyle.
The location of the home you buy is even more important than the actual house. The structure itself can be changed, but there’s nothing you can do about the location. Think about important things such as the types of schools in the area, proximity to your place of work, noise pollution, future developments, and businesses in the area before settling on a specific neighborhood and lot.
7. Book Second Showings on Homes That Make the Short List
Don’t put in an offer after only visiting a home once. Even if you believe you’ve found “the one,” it’s still important to check the place out one more time before signing off on an offer. There may be things that you might not have noticed the first time around, and viewing the home a second time around will give you another opportunity to see the place in a different light.
When you do book a second showing, consider going at a different time of day than the first time around. The way a neighborhood seems during the day might be totally different than how the area is at night. Things such as traffic and how neighbors behave could differ at various times of the day.
The Bottom Line
Buying a house is a huge deal and a major expense. The last thing you want is to suffer from the dreaded “buyer’s remorse.” But you don’t have to. With careful planning, sound house-hunting tactics, and a seasoned real estate agent by your side, you can make the most of your house-hunting trips and buy the home of your dreams.