How do you find a house? Let’s assume that you have already chosen the town in which you will be buying a home. Should you go online and start looking? Should you call a real estate agent first? Look in the papers?
You will probably do all of the above at some point in the process. How you take these steps matters, though, especially if you have limited time to search for your new home. Try the following routine to find a house.
1. Take a look at real estate guides, newspapers, and online real estate listings for the area you are interested in. Don’t spend too much time on this first step. This is just to start the educational process, to let you know what is available and what neighborhoods you may like to live in.
2. Sit down and decide what is truly important to you in a house. Start with minimum requirements you need to be happy in the home. You can upgrade expectations later in the process if your budget allows for it, and your real estate agent will be pushing you to buy more home in any case. Write down what you are looking for, the price limit, and make a copy for the real estate agent.
3. Contact a good real estate agent. If you are unsure who to choose, ask a lot of questions. You can also look in the real estate advertisements for the real estate agent who is selling the most homes of the type you want and in the area you want. They are likely to be the most knowledgeable and helpful.
4. Have the real estate agent set up six or seven showings of homes that meet your criteria on a day when you have time. The specific homes should be based on your criteria. Also tell the agent if you find a house in the newspaper or online that you want to see.
5. When you arrive in town for the showings, first drive by all the homes you will be shown (if this is practical). Often you can eliminate several of them without wasting time going inside. Let the agent know you won’t need to see those houses. If you live in the town you are buying a house in, do this step before the agent sets up the listings.
6. Repeat these steps if you need to. It often takes walking through a dozen homes or more to find the house you want.
Remember that unless your agent is specifically a buyer’s agent, he works for the seller. Anything you say may be used against you. This doesn’t mean he can’t help you. He can try his best to find exactly the home you need.
However, once you choose a home to make an offer on, his job as a seller’s agent is to try to get you to pay as much as possible, and to pass on any information he obtains from you to the seller. Good negotiating skills on your part come into play at this point. Of course, that is another topic, and first you need to find a house.
Copyright Steve Gillman. For advice on Real Estate Negotiation, and to see a photo of the home Steve and his wife bought for $17,500, visit: http://www.HousesUnderFiftyThousand.com