Even in today’s buyer’s market, searching for a home can be a challenge. With so many short sales and foreclosures on the market, there are both pitfalls and opportunities behind every door. So keep your eyes wide open when you visit prospective homes.
Every buyer is different. Some buyers find a house after looking at two or three properties, while others need to look at 20 or 30 before making a decision. When you first meet with your Realtor®, draw up a list with three categories: “must have,” “would like,” “not important.” This will help your Realtor® set up your automated search, which will send available property listings directly from the MLS to your computer. Select the properties you want to see and let your Realtor® know so he can make appointments for the showings.
Keep your search broad at first—do not set too many search criteria. As you look at houses, your expectations will bump up against reality, and you’ll learn more about what you can really purchase in today’s market. Your Realtor® can adjust your search at any time, so leave the fine tuning for a later date.
When you look at houses, try to look past any clutter, ugly paint, wallpaper, old appliances or other surface blemishes. You can change most of them easily and at low cost after you move in. The important items to watch for are structural and mechanical issues, and your Realtor® should point out any flaws she sees in these big-ticket items. Bowing foundation walls, rusted furnaces and water heaters, water leaks and bad electrical wiring are all visible and should be noted. Other problems can only be caught by an inspector, so don’t forgo the inspection after your offer is accepted.
When searching for your home, keep in mind the following:
1. Interest rates change almost daily, so locking in when the rate is lower may allow you to purchase a higher-priced house for the same monthly payment as a lower-priced house at a higher interest rate. In other words, you can get more house for your money if you lock into a lower interest rate, so keep the rates in mind as you search for a house.
2. Most buyers will acknowledge that there is no “perfect house.” Every house you see will have some glitches, and you should be realistic about which glitches you can live with and which you absolutely can’t. Share that information with your Realtor® as early in the process as possible.
3. If another person needs to give their approval before you can make an offer on a house (mom, dad, grandma), you should try to have that person accompany you on house visits. They need to see the houses you’ve seen so they can compare your chosen house to all the others and understand why you chose it.
Always give your Realtor® verbal feedback after each showing so she can better assess the listings she sends you. If you’ve seen about 10 homes that meet your search criteria but do not meet your expectations, you and your Realtor® should revisit your criteria and see where you can tweak them. This will help you both to better understand what your real estate goals are,
and will allow you to make more efficient use of your time.
Keep your eyes open during your search, and most of all, have fun!
Janet Contursi has been a Twin Cities Realtor® for more than 10 years. She is expert in all types of residential real estate, including short sales and foreclosures, and she especially enjoys working with first-time buyers and sellers. Contact her at (612-655-1207) or: firstname.lastname@example.org
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