So, you’re on the hunt for a home. Congrats! Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or back in the market, it’s a tremendous step in your life to make this investment.
Below I list a few tips and suggestions to help you in your search for a home.
Remember, first and foremost before you even go out to look, you’ll want to contact your mortgage lender and get pre-qualified. This little task will help you develop a purchase window and save you time in the long run. What’s more, if you’re not pre-qualified before you’re looking to make an offer, the added time for pre-approval and pre-qualification may slow down your process and put you at risk of missing out on a home. So, do yourself a favor and prepare in advance.
Develop a Broad “What I Want”List
Sure, you may not always know what you want until you see it, but going into your home search with a checklist of items you know you want will already help narrow down the search. If you’re looking for three bedrooms and two baths at minimum, that already eliminates a number of houses that would not meet your criteria. The same goes for any other structural preferences such as a backyard, garage, formal dining room, etc. You don’t want to necessarily build your perfect home in your head, but you do want to at the very least jot down you Big Three. An example of this would be 3BR with at least 1.5 Baths, a living room to entertain, and a two-car garage (or two-car wide driveway). Oh, and if you and your significant other are house hunting together, make sure you sit down and discuss these items. You’ll want to be on the same page (or close enough) to ensure you’re not looking at properties from only one angle. To that point, try and schedule appointments that work for both of you so you each have the opportunity to take it all in.
Take Your Time
Now that you’ve developed this short list and we start finding properties together, remember to take your time while viewing. They say a buyer knows right away when they step into the house if they like it or not. While this may be a true, the same goes for warming up to a home. As you walk around picture yourself living there. Mentally stage your furniture, imagine gathering in the kitchen/living room/dining room. Picture yourself cooking and entertaining in the kitchen, and sleeping restfully in the bedrooms. And don’t forget to check out the exterior. Will you be raking leaves, mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters? Think that over. If it’s not a fit, then trust your gut and move on. But if you can visualize those things, then start over again. I even recommend walking out and coming back in one more time and going through the home with this in mind. The amount of time dedicated to a showing is entirely up to the individual. Typically a buyer may spend 15-20 minutes in a home, but an interested buyer may up that to 45 minutes or more.
If You Like It, View it Again
If you find yourself liking a home enough to consider making an offer, see if you can set up another visit, only this time at a different time of day. If you first saw the home at 10am on a Sunday, consider going back and checking it out after work on a weekday. This gives you an opportunity to see how the lighting reflects in the home and how the neighborhood lights illuminate the streets.