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10 Tips When Shopping for A Home

When you’re finally ready to look for a house, it can seem like there are homes for sale on every corner. How do you start? What should you keep in mind when shopping for a home? Here are a few tips:

1. If possible, shop in December. The housing market booms in springtime as the weather warms and people are more willing to be out and about. In December, prices hit their lowest marks of the year. Some markets will show a 7 to 10 percent price dip in December and January. Put on your thick coat and get out there!

2. Know exactly how much house you can afford, and get pre-approved for that amount. A pre-approval will help you stay within your budget so you won’t be tempted to buy more house than you can afford just because you like the pool in the backyard. Keep in mind that taxes and homeowner’s insurance costs will add to the price of the home.

3. Look for a home in an area that has good schools. Even if you don’t have kids and don’t plan to, if you ever need to move out, it’s easier to sell a home with a good school district. You’ll get a better sale price, too.

4. Check out the home’s neighborhood. When you find a home you’re considering, come back to the neighborhood several times a day. Pay attention to the traffic patterns during rush hour and the noise levels throughout the day and night. Is there a playground or neighborhood pool? What will the commute be for you to get to work? Is the neighborhood mostly families with young kids, retirees, or a mix?

5. Bring a flashlight. It will allow you to look deep into closets and various crannies while you’re viewing homes. Shine the light into the corners of all the rooms and along the ceilings to look for small cracks. Don’t need the flashlight in some rooms? It probably has excellent natural light!

6. Leave the kids at home for the first viewing. You’ll be able to focus on the details better, and you can always bring them along for the second viewing.

7. Make a list of your non-negotiables, and then a separate list of features you would like, but that you don’t require (like lot size, built-in shelves, etc.). When you see a home you’re considering, make sure it meets all your non-negotiables, then give it one point for each “bonus” feature it has that you listed previously. The homes with the most points makes your list of final considerations.

8. As you view various homes, explain to your agent exactly what you do and do not like about each one. He or she can them scratch off other homes with those features you don’t want. This way, you won’t waste your time looking at homes you’ll never buy.

9. Don’t forget the landscaping. While the owners might have beautifully staged the lawn for your viewing, is it a lawn you really want to take care of all year long? Lots of trees mean lots of raking. Are you able to commit to lawn mowing every weekend? Know what your lawn care wants are before you start shopping.

10. Bring a digital camera. Take pictures of each room and the exterior of the home. When it comes time to making a decision, you’ll have visual memory cues that will help you more completely remember the details of each home.