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5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

In today’s real estate market, with low inventory dominating the conversation in many areas of the country, it can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.

In a recent realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In

Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.

An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and documenting what you love and don’t love about each property you visit. They even go as far as to suggest snapping a photo of the ‘for sale’ sign on the way into the property to help keep the listings divided in your photo gallery.

Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.


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11 replies
  1. Julie Flint
    Julie Flint says:

    While I agree that people should keep a log of the houses they look at, I don’t agree that my client should take a picture of the for sale sign with the listing agents name and number on it. I want my clients to remember the house so they can get any information from me not the listing agent. I do tell my clients to call me when they want to see a house and if they go to an open house or talk to a fsbo to tell them they have a buyers agent. I go even as far as putting it in buy buyer agency agreements.

    Reply
  2. Taylor Bishop
    Taylor Bishop says:

    I wanted to thank you for this advice for looking for a home to buy. I’m glad that you mentioned you should know what features of a home that you absolutely need and list those so you can be focused on what you want. Perhaps it could be beneficial to have a smaller list of what you absolutely need from a home so that your options aren’t too narrow.

    Reply
  3. Steele Honda
    Steele Honda says:

    Thanks for pointing out that when searching for a house you should evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. My husband and I are looking for different real estate for sale so that we can narrow down what exactly we want in a house. I think that it would be nice for my family to have a big yard, and to have enough bedrooms for all of us so no one has to squish. http://www.vinceknowshomes.com/sykesville/

    Reply
  4. Marcus Coons
    Marcus Coons says:

    I loved the idea of test-driving the neighborhood where you want to live. It is important to consider this so you find a place you feel safe at and have schools and shopping areas close by. We need to move to a different state because of my engineering job, so I wanted to find a house that will be safe for my family. https://www.takeabc.com/

    Reply
  5. Mindy Jollie
    Mindy Jollie says:

    I like what you said about finding the difference between features that you absolutely need and things you just would like to have, like extra rooms, style of kitchen, or landscape features. If I were looking for a home, I might try something like a home expo just to see what’s available in my area and see different options in quicker succession for comparison. That might make some of those decisions a little easier! https://nationwideexpos.com/dakotas/

    Reply
  6. Jane Burt
    Jane Burt says:

    I found it very helpful how you explained that when you are starting your search for a home, you should make sure to figure out what house style you are wanting as it helps narrow down your search. My family is needing to move as my husband is getting a new job soon and we are needing help starting our home search. We will start figuring out what house style we want first. https://www.murrellsinletschomes.com/

    Reply
  7. Ellie Davis
    Ellie Davis says:

    It’s interesting to know that you need to evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. My husband and I are thinking about buying another house, and we are looking for advice. I will let him know about your recommendations to find the best house for our family. http://thegeorgiaclub.com/

    Reply
  8. Derek McDoogle
    Derek McDoogle says:

    I like how you pointed out some tips for when you are ready to buy a house such as to get pre-approved for a mortgage and chose the right neighborhood. My sister just got married and her husband wants to buy a house for them. I will share this article with them so that they can get the right house.

    Reply
  9. Vivian Black
    Vivian Black says:

    My best friend and her husband are moving to Kalispell, MT, and they asked me to help them find tips on how to best find a home in the area. They love how you talked about researching the neighborhood you want to live in and making sure that it meets your needs. They will be sure to keep these tips in mind in addition to getting help from a professional to find their home.

    Reply

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