Are you looking for your dream home? If so, you should be familiar with some house hunting tips to be prepared for the journey of finding it. These will help you keep your finances in check and make the selection process straightforward.
Before we move on to our tips for house hunting, keep in mind that it is a very emotional process. It is no secret that looking for your dream place is not always an easy task. Luckily, our house hunting guide will help you navigate the process like an expert, even if it’s your first time.
What to Look for When House Hunting
If you’re wondering What should I look for when home hunting?, you should have a well-rounded picture of your needs and wants. Besides the number of rooms and the size of the backyard, especially if you have kids or moving with pets, you should consider more important things before you make an offer, such as:
- Home’s curb appeal
- Size and the floor plan
- Windows and lighting
- Closets and storage
- Finishing touches
After considering all of the above elements, you will have a better idea of what you actually need and whether the specific property will satisfy your requirements.
#1 Identify Your Housing Needs
In addition to the general issues, you need to deal with some other practical questions related to the number of rooms, architectural style, square footage, etc. This information is crucial for both you and your real estate agent.
Try to make and understand the difference between your needs and wants. The former should be the priority, and the latter is desirable, but not mandatory. So, create your list of requirements that includes only things that are (or would be) impossible to change, such as the location, the plot, the size, etc.
Before You Start Shopping, Consider These House Hunting Tips
Everyone who is looking to buy a new place is eager to do that ASAP. But, there is homework that you should do beforehand in order to ensure a smooth shopping process.
#2 Check Your Credit Score
Your score might be below a certain point, and your mortgage loan is out of the question in that case. So, if you can’t get financing, there’s no point in dreaming about your perfect home. First, learn more about credit score and other related questions, and only after that, go a step further and set out to find your prospective place.
#3 Create a Budget
Compare the amount of money you earn per month with what you spend on debts and other expenses. Your housing budget is the difference between these numbers. This is your first spending limit.
#4 Get Pre-Approved By a Mortgage Lender
The second spending limit is related to getting pre-approved by a mortgage lender. During the pre-approval, the lender will consider all relevant factors, such as your income, debt situation, credit situation, etc. In accordance with these parameters, they will tell you how much they are willing to lend you.
#5 Use a Multiple Listing Service
Rely on Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a private database of available homes for sale. It is compiled and managed by real estate experts for up-to-date information and accuracy. This service will save you headaches during your searching process.
#6 Start Researching Neighborhoods
Living in a desirable neighborhood affects property values. That being said, homes in popular districts are the most sought after and are sold faster than comparable homes outside these areas. So, before your interstate moving day comes, do some research about your future city and its districts to make your relocation easier.
What to Pay Attention to if You Have Kids or Pets
You might be a person without children planning to stay that way in the future as well. The nearness of schools and kindergartens doesn’t affect you at all. However, if you have kids, a good school near you is a big plus. What’s more, the vicinity of schools and kindergartens tends to increase and maintain high property value, which means you’ll be able to resell your property at a high price, if you ever decide to make that move.
If you’re moving with pets, you’ll likely want to live in an area filled with dog-friendly parks. So, make sure your prospective dwelling place is surrounded by green spaces and parklands where you can enjoy strolling with your pet.
#7 Find a Place Near a School District
Districts with good schools tend to maintain property value, and the truth is people want to live near good schools. This directly leads to rising home values and better area amenities.
Find an Agent to Help You
With a realtor, your dreams can easily turn into reality. What does it mean? This person’s job is to be informed about residence options out there that fit your requirements. Perhaps one of the best parts of hiring an agent is their ability to deal with unemotional negotiation.
#8 Know How to Find a Real Estate Agent
A personal recommendation is usually the best way to find an excellent realtor. Start from your family and friends, and continue with social networking. Also, there are other efficient methods for choosing the realtor:
- Find local real estate blogs
- Leverage your network
- Consider websites that let you ask for information from several realtors at once
- Use the NAEBA (National Association Of Exclusive Buyer Agents) website
#9 Be Aware of the Tasks Your Agent Should Perform
Why is it a good idea to choose a realtor’s help? They know how well a neighborhood holds its value, so they can set a price on a home the minute after crossing the threshold. Also, with their help, you can quickly determine the amount to offer, and leave all negotiations to them.
Visit the Homes on Your Pool of Candidates
After all preliminary steps and arrangements with a realtor, you will be ready to visit some properties you’ve already chosen. But before you start with some showings, you should learn more tips for house hunting.
#10 Know What You Should Not Say When Viewing a House
One of the most enjoyable parts of shopping a new property is definitely viewing potential spots. But, did you know that your behavior during “the hunt” can affect the seller’s decision to accept or decline your offer? So, if you would like to leave a good impression, there are several things you shouldn’t say:
- Keep massive renovation plans to yourself
- Avoid negative commentary on the existing interior decoration
- Never, ever admit that you’ve found a perfect residence
- Don’t ask the current owner the reasons for the sale. It’s better to ask the seller’s realtor in private
- Try not to comment on the asking price out loud
Would you like to learn more about what not to say to a seller? Check out the video below:
#11 Know What to Wear to House Showing
The old saying goes, “First impressions are everything.” So, if you’re moving from an apartment to a house and you’ve already set your appointment to check out the new place, you should arrive on time and look perfect. Put simply, you should look clean, tidy, and presentable. Try to go for business casual or professional attire.
#12 Bring Your House Hunt Checklist With You
Buying a home without knowing almost everything about it might be awkward. The only way you can ask or check something out is to create your own house hunting tips checklist and bring it with you. Here are some suggestions to jot down on it:
- Take a long, close look at the bathroom, especially the corners in case there is mold or any pipes or wires that don’t look right;
- Check out how much storage space there is and try to estimate whether it would be enough for all your stuff. If not, consider getting a storage unit;
- Explore the attic and basement and look for any signs of water intrusion or molding wood;
- Meet the neighbors and ask them about the area;
- Check out whether your future property complies with the law – inspect the certificate of occupancy;
- If something bothers you or you just want to get an answer, ask.
#13 Bring a Digital Camera
It’s easy to forget interesting details related to a specific spot if it’s among 20 others. The best advice is to put all the photos in a labeled folder – it’s an excellent option when you start comparing one residence to another.
#14 Know How Long the Showing Will Take
According to the National Association of Realtors, 56% of all buyers believe that the most arduous task in the homebuying process is how to house hunt, or, in other words, how to pick the right residence. Statistics say that a typical buyer (one who uses the Internet) spends about ten weeks searching for the perfect home and views about ten houses.
If you listen to realtors’ advice, they will tell you that you need about 15 to 20 minutes to view a place. Still, many factors can impact the duration:
- Whether or not you’re shopping alone
- The current state of the market
- The number of times you plan on viewing the property
- Potential issues, such as missing installations
- How you feel about your prospective dwelling place
- The size of the place in question
Have You Been Thinking About Shopping for Homes Online
The internet can be useful, with its virtual tours, photos, and video content. These are especially great if you’re moving long-distance and can’t see every property individually. Also, you can use these to reduce the number of properties you’re planning to visit. You should choose based on the price, location, and size. This way, you’ll reduce the number of homes to a few of them.
#15 Consider These Property Websites
If you haven’t already, you should take a look at some property websites. These will facilitate your search regarding efficiency, listings, foreclosure issues, etc.:
How Long Should House Hunting Take?
How long it takes you to find a new property depends on many things, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. This process is complicated, and it can easily take over three months. For this reason, all your steps should be planned, especially if you’re moving across the country.
#16 Even the Best-Planned Timeline Can Fall Behind
However, sometimes, even though you have planned everything perfectly, things can decide to go at their own pace. Here are some common reasons why:
- There might be a lot of properties to choose from
- You might miss some of the best offers due to the hot market
- Buyers who don’t want to hire a realtor might find the buying process harder
- Buyers with demanding jobs are usually limited to weekends and nights for viewings
What House-Hunting Mistakes You Should Avoid
Since buying a new residence is a considerable investment, especially when you’re planning on moving interstate, mistakes are not allowed. It’s good to know the most common mistakes you should avoid and make this process as smooth as possible.
#17 Going By Yourself
Being in this process without a real estate agent may be challenging. Realtors are dedicated experts on the local market and can help you choose the best option for you.
#18 Making the Hunt Too Narrow
When looking for a new property, people usually have an ideal location in mind. Being limited to one area only might mean missing out on a place that offers plenty of amenities you’re looking for. The wider the area that you determine, the more opportunities you’ll get.
#19 Letting Others to Make Decisions for You
Other people shouldn’t stick their noses into your purchasing process. The property you buy is your personal decision, and only you know what you actually need. So, don’t give too much thought to outside opinions, unless they are coming from someone you really trust.
#20 Not Planning for the Future
Your current needs and those in the future are likely not the same. Try to think ahead during the buying process about things related to your possible home-based work or expanding the family. You never know what might happen in a couple of years.
There Is no Such Thing as Perfect Place
Finding a residence with every single detail you want is impossible. So be realistic and take your time. Weigh the pros and cons and make a choice that will be good for your finances and feelings.
Think About Moving to Your New Home in Time
In addition to your needs and wants, you should think about your cross country moving ahead of time. This way, you’ll avoid doing too many things at once and protect yourself from moving stress. Try to organize all necessary things step-by-step, from getting long-distance moving services and packing to learning how to move out for the first time. Relocating long distance usually means moving away from friends, so don’t forget to organize a moving away party.
All in all, getting your dream home is not a straightforward process. It requires time, patience, finances, and excellent organization. Still, relocating to a place that fulfills all your requirements and most of the wishes is worth the effort.