- Familiarize yourself with the housing market in the area where you’re searching. Get to know what’s available and the general price range for the housing options you’d consider. If condos and townhomes are your preference but the area offers only single-family homes, look for communities more in-line with your ideal area.
- Prioritize the features you need, and avoid unpleasant surprises. School districts, maintenance, safety, and commuting are all important considerations for many buyers. Some people may want to walk to restaurants and night life while others want peace and quiet. Clarifying your needs vs. wants, and taking a little time to investigate areas that suit you can make your search much smoother.
- Take your search from hypothetical listings to real homes. As you visit homes in different areas, get a sense for what’s important to you and if your budget is realistic. Once you’ve found some homes you like, be sure to revisit the area at different times of the day to get a feel for what it’s like during rush hour or in the evening. Trying out the commute if you have one, can be a good idea too.
- Research local professionals. If you’re searching for a home in a city or area you’re unfamiliar with, it’s never a bad idea to look for a local realtor to help you. Be sure to find a real estate agent with as much experience in that area as possible.
- Stay realistic about your goals. It’s very difficult to find the “perfect” house that’s available, affordable, and fits your needs and wants. Consider overlooking things you can easily change, like paint colors, flooring and carpeting, landscaping, and appliances. Focus on the things you can’t change or that could be expensive to adjust, like the neighborhood, structural integrity, HVAC and plumbing systems, and safety.
The process of searching for and finding the right house for you can feel intimidating or even overwhelming, especially in tougher housing markets. It starts with understanding exactly what you need and want in a home, then balancing those wants and needs with what’s available in the area where you’re searching.
Here are some tips to help you get started on your house search: