Buying Step 4: Target Your Search, Look at Properties and Choose a Home
Millions of homes are sold each year. There's no shortage of housing options, but with so many choices the challenge becomes finding the property which best meets your needs.
The housing market is complicated because the stock of homes for sale is always in flux. Even if you could have a complete list of every home for sale at a given moment in a given community, such a list would become quickly obsolete as new homes become available and listed properties are sold.
In effect, buyers are looking at a dynamic market. So, it is important to know as much as possible about the choices in preferred markets, and the way to do that is by working closely with a local REALTOR® who is familiar with local markets and current real estate trends. Also, REALTORS® have access to all homes on the market, including those that have not yet been advertised.
Determine What You Want in a Home
A home is more than just a collection of bedrooms and bathrooms. Several properties - each with four bedrooms, three baths, and the same price - may well have radically different designs, commuting distances, lot sizes, tax costs, interior dimensions, exterior finishes, neighborhoods, etc.
First, list the features and benefits you want in a home. Consider such things as pricing, location, size, amenities (extras such as a pool or extra-large kitchen) and design (one floor or two, colonial or modern, etc.).
Next, determine your priorities. If you can't get a home at your price with all the features you want, then what features are most important? For instance, would you trade fewer bedrooms for a larger kitchen? A longer commute for a bigger lot and lower cost?
Last, consider your future needs. If you'll need a larger home later on, maybe now is the time to buy a bigger house rather than moving or expanding in the future.
Target Your Search
Know what you want and target your search in preparation for working with a REALTOR®. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) statistics show that a high percentage of buyers now research their options online and elsewhere for about six months on average before consulting a REALTOR®.
Basic targeting measures, such as general location and affordability, can help you refine your search and focus on homes that offer the most desirable features.
Target your desired neighborhood. All neighborhoods and communities have a unique character and value. One community may be well known for historic homes while another offers both suburban living with easy access to downtown office areas. Determine which neighborhood(s) will work for you so you do not waste time looking where you would not want to live.
Look for Homes
Your REALTOR® will find you home listings based on your criteria. You can also look for homes online, in local papers and real estate guides and by driving through neighborhoods that you’ve targeted.
Look at as many homes as possible both locally and online so you can make a sound decision when you choose a home. You may want to keep a file with information on each of the homes you like. Your REALTOR® can help you determine the pros and cons of the properties you are interested in.
If you are buying a condo, it is important that you and your agent review the strata minutes to determine whether there are any critical structural or mechanical defects. Also, take a close look at the current financial statements to make sure the finances are sound.
Choose a Home
A house is shelter. But a home is far more: it's where you live, relax, entertain friends, raise families, and work. A home is where you spend much of your life, so take your time to choose a house you can become your home.
Don’t make hasty decisions, especially about financing. Be sure you can really afford the home you choose.