House Hunting Tips

Make a list of features you'd like to see in a home

When working with an experienced and knowledgeable realtor, finding the perfect home can actually be a fairly easy and enjoyable experience for both the seasoned and first-time buyer. Use the following important tips as you prepare for your home search

  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage prior to viewing homes. Rather than guessing or estimating how much you can afford to spend, you need to contact a loan specialist at a bank or mortgage company in order to obtain a loan pre-approval, review your financing options and start the application process. This does not mean you are committed to any one lender in particular at this stage; it simply determines the maximum loan amount you qualify for. Getting pre-approved gives you a clear idea of what home price range you can afford. You might be able to afford a larger home than you think, or maybe you dream big and need to refine your "must have" list. Either way, knowing your price range saves you time so you are only viewing properties that fall within your budget. In today's real estate market, a pre-approval is generally a necessity when submitting an offer for a home you are pursuing and ultimately hope to purchase. Any delays in providing the pre-approval during the offer process could very well result in a lost opportunity. Today's sellers generally don't take an offer seriously unless it is accompanied by a loan pre-approval.

  • Do your homework online. Recent home sales prices, market trends, number of homes on the market, neighborhood statistics, and more are all available online. Searching online is often the first step for many buyers and can help you create and narrow down your own list of "must-haves" when it comes to that major purchase. My website at gives buyers the opportunity to search and create customized, saved searches that are your own lists of properties based upon your needs and desires regarding location, price, and features in a home. You can also sign up for automatic listing updates via email, view real estate MLS listings and schedule home tours.

  • Go to open houses. As you begin your real estate search, it is sometimes hard to know exactly what you desire in a home. Attending various open house events can help you obtain a mental picture of what you like and dislike in a home. All you need to do is show up at the open house during the scheduled event and wander all around in order to view the layout and features.

    Remember, if you are already under a buyer broker's agreement, be sure to disclose your agent's name in any conversation you have with the listing agent so they know you already have someone representing you, should you decide to place an offer. Mentioning the fact you have a buyer agent may also save you the aggravation of being solicited by the listing agent or any other agents.

    A good real estate agent can be a wealth of information. They may have already seen some of the homes that interest you, so they can offer you more details about the property as well as share their knowledge regarding the neighborhood, community, and school system. This is invaluable information as you narrow down the list of homes you would like to tour.

  • Location, location, location. You've probably heard the old real estate saying, "location, location, location", but the point still bears repeating. Even a picture-perfect dream home can be a mistake if it's in an undesirable location. Consider the local school system, access to public amenities, your commute time, and surrounding properties when visiting houses.

  • Make lists so as not to overlook details. Start compiling your wish list by thinking about what you like and dislike about your current home. Zero in on the features you must have, would like to have, would prefer not to have, and definitely don't want. Turn your priorities into a personalized home-shopping checklist and use it to track the features of each home. Your agent should provide you with listing sheets and property disclosures for all the homes you plan on viewing. If not, make sure to request this helpful information since touring multiple homes can sometimes be rather confusing when trying to keep all the facts straight for each property. Rather than relying solely on memory, it's beneficial to make notes about the homes you visit.

Once you view a couple of homes, you will begin to see more clearly what really appeals to you and what does not. Finding that perfect home may be just one showing away. When you find the right home, your agent will be there to prepare and submit your offer and help you navigate through the buying process until the keys to the front door are in your hands.