Buying a Home Step 2: Find a Home

Highlights

  • Interview real estate agents.
  • Make a list of your needs and wants in a home.
  • Review the disclosures carefully.
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10 Factors to Consider as You Search for a Home

Choose a Real Estate Professional

All the details involved in buying a home can be confusing. Finding the right real estate professional for you is a great first step toward making the experience much easier.

In most states, licensed agents work under the authority of a real estate broker. One of the best sources for finding an agent you can trust is through referrals. Ask someone you know who has recently purchased or sold property about their experience.

Compile a list of several agents and talk to each one before choosing. Look for an agent who listens well, understands your needs, and whose judgment you trust. The ideal agent knows the local area well and has resources to help you in your search. Overall, you want to choose an agent that makes you feel comfortable and can provide the knowledge and services you need.

Find a Home

Everyone’s idea of a “dream home” may be different, so it is important to formulate a list of the features and benefits you would like in a home. Consider factors such as pricing, location, size, amenities and design. It often pays to attend several open houses where sellers open up their homes to potential buyers. You can see a variety of options to help you develop a list of your requirements. Your real estate professional will be able to provide guidance and help.

Here are ten factors to consider as you narrow your home search:

  1. Quality and availability of schools and libraries.
  2. Proximity to work.
  3. Access to major highways and public transportation.
  4. Immediacy of shopping, religious centers, hospitals, and recreation facilities/parks.
  5. Property tax rates, income tax rates and other community expenses as compared with similar homes in other neighborhoods (i.e., association fees, snow and trash removal, common ground maintenance).
  6. Utility expenses, including electricity, water, trash collection, and sewage disposal (past utility expenses are available from the utility company).
  7. Availability of public services such as police and fire protection.
  8. Local zoning ordinances.
  9. Condition of neighboring properties.
  10. Lifecycle of neighborhood. In decline? Gentrifying? Stable?

Consider your priorities. If you cannot find a home within your price range with all the features you want, then decide which features are most important to you. Would you prefer a large kitchen or an extra bathroom? Would you trade a bigger yard for a shorter commute? Write out this list and share it with your real estate professional. This will help your agent limit the search to only those homes truly of interest to you.

If you look at more than a few homes, they can quickly become a blur. To help keep track, refer to your list of priorities and make notes of which of your desired features are in each house. It is easiest to do this on the listing sheets that agents often provide for you, which can include a photo and certain information regarding the property. Afterward, compile a worksheet based on your priorities and give each house a rating.

Pay Attention to the Details

Once you have begun to narrow down specific properties, go beyond the surface appearance and look carefully at each house. Be sure to examine the physical details and construction. Particular details about a home may be available in a residential property disclosure form, if the seller has completed one. This form is a questionnaire that gives you an overview of the physical history and condition of the property according to the seller’s knowledge. The listing agent presents the form to the seller, who should complete it truthfully. It then becomes a part of the file on that particular property. Ask your real estate professional for a copy. As you progress through the home buying process you may also want to consider having a home inspection conducted by a professional third party.

Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Home
Step 1: Shop for a Mortgage Loan It pays to shop when looking for a loan.
Step 2: Find a Home: Create a list of must-haves and nice-to haves.
Step 3: Make an Offer Get advice before you place an offer.
Step 4: Home Inspection, Title Search and More Buy your home with open eyes.
Step 5: Insure Your Home The right insurance protects you from financial ruin.
Step 6: Seal the Deal Understanding your Settlement Statement (HUD-1).
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