Your Property Wish List
What does your future home look like? Where is it located? As you hunt down your dream home, consult this list to evaluate properties and keep your priorities top of mind.
- Neighborhoods: What neighborhoods do you prefer?
- Schools: What school systems do you want to be near?
- Transportation: How close must the home be to these amenities:
- Public transportation
- Neighborhood shopping
- Home Style: What architectural style(s) of homes do you prefer?
- Home Condition:
- Do you prefer a new home or an existing home?
- If you’re looking for an existing home, how old of a home would you consider?
- How much repair or renovation would you be willing to do?
- Do you have special needs that your home must meet?
- Home Features
- Make a list of home features and prioritize whether it is a "Must Have", "Would Like", "Willing to Compromise", "Not Important"
You can download a printable version of this worksheet here:
8 Tips to Guide Your Home Search
1. Research before you look. Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighborhoods you prefer, and how much you’d be willing to spend each month for housing.
2. Be realistic. It’s OK to be picky, but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.
3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender and get prequalified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can’t afford.
4. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own.
5. Decide your moving timeline. When is your lease up? Are you trying to move before the start of a new school year? These factors will help you determine when you should move.
6. Think long term. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.
7. Insist on a home inspection. If possible, get a warranty from the seller to cover defects for one year.
8. Get help from a REALTOR®. Hire a real estate professional who possesses strong local market knowledge and is experienced in buyer representation. Unlike the listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer’s representative is working only for you. Buyer’s reps are usually compensated by the listing broker.
Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Tips for Buying in a Tight Market
Increase your chances of getting your dream house in a competitive housing market, and lower your chances of losing out to another buyer.
1. Get prequalified for a mortgage. You’ll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and your offer will be more desirable to the seller.
2. Stay in close contact with your real estate agent to find out about the newest listings. Be ready to see a house as soon as it goes on the market — if it’s a great home, it will go fast.
3. Scout out new listings yourself. Look at Web sites such as REALTOR.com and Zillow.com, and drive through the neighborhood to spot For Sale signs. If you see a home you like, write down the address and the name of the listing agent. Your real estate agent will schedule a showing.
4. Be ready to make a decision. Spend a lot of time in advance deciding what you must have in a home so you won’t be unsure when you have the chance to make an offer. This is where having actually toured a number of homes (versus on-line only viewing) will help you recognize the "right home".
5. Bid competitively. You may not want to start out offering the absolute highest price you can afford, but don’t go too low to get a deal. In a tight market, you’ll lose out.
6. Keep contingencies to a minimum. Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move or wanting to delay the closing until a certain date can make your offer unappealing. In a tight market, you’ll probably be able to sell your house rapidly. Or talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.
7. Don’t get caught in a buying frenzy. Just because there’s competition doesn’t mean you should just buy it. And even though you want to make your offer attractive, don’t neglect inspections that help ensure that your house is sound.