Home Hunting Tips


When I start visiting homes, what should I be looking for the first time through?

The house you ultimately choose to call home will play a major role in your family's life. A home can be an excellent investment, but more importantly, it should fit the way you live, with spaces and features that appeal to everyone in the family.

As you look at each home, consider these important factors:

  • Is there enough room for you now and in the near future?
  • Is the home's floor plan right for your family?
  • Is there enough storage space?
  • Will you have to replace the appliances?
  • Is the yard the size that you want?
  • Are there enough bathrooms?
  • How much maintenance and/or decorating will you need to do right away? Later?
  • Will your present furniture work in this home?
  • Use our handy Home Buyer's Checklist
  • How many bedrooms should I be considering?
  • Whether you are married or not, or have kids or not, spare bedrooms come in handy when family and friends come to stay. And when you're not having guests, extra rooms are useful as a library, den, or TV room.

Another good reason to choose a home with extra bedrooms: extra space will make your home more appealing to a larger number of interested buyers when it comes time to sell.

Is an older home as good a value as a new home?

It's a matter of personal preference. Both new and older homes offer distinct advantages, depending upon your unique tastes and lifestyle.

New homes generally have more space in the rooms where today's families do their living, like a family room or activity area. They're usually easier to maintain, too.

However, many homes built years ago offer more total space for the money, as well as larger yards. Taxes on some older homes may also be lower.

Some people are charmed by the elegance of an older home, but shy away because they're concerned about potential maintenance costs. Consider a home warranty to get the peace of mind you deserve. The ERA Home Protection Plan protects you against unexpected repairs on many home systems and appliances for a full year or more after you move in.

BUYING TIP

You can assume that any appliances listed "as is" are on their last legs.

What do I need to bring along when I'm looking at homes?

Bring your own:

  • Notebook and pen for note-taking
  • Flashlight for seeing enclosed areas
  • Tape measure for checking room sizes, clearances, etc.
  • Camera (digital or 35mm)
  • Be prepared to investigate a little. After all, you want to know as much as possible about the home you buy.
  • Sellers understand that because their home is on the market, it will be looked over pretty thoroughly.

If you need to go back to a home for another look, your sales professional will be happy to schedule an appointment. Also, be sure to ask any questions you have about the home, even if you feel you're being nosy. You have a right to know, and the serious seller will not mind making you feel more confident that you've chosen the right house.

What should I ask about each home that I look at?

As a rule of thumb, ask any questions you have about specific rooms, features, or functions. Pay particular attention to areas that you feel could become "problem" ones -- additions, defects, areas that have been repaired. And above all, if you don't feel your question has been answered, ask until you understand and are satisfied.

In most cases, your real estate professional will be able to provide you with detailed information about each home you see. You can also use the Home Features Worksheet in this section to note room sizes, features that need a second look, and other comments.

HOME HUNTING TIPS

When you find a home you may be interested in buying, make sure the sales professional asks the owner the following questions:

  • How much money do you pay for monthly utilities?
  • Have you had any problems with water or dampness in the basement?
  • Are there defects or problem areas that need to be fixed right away?
  • How old is the furnace and the central air conditioning system?
  • How old is the roof? Have you experienced any leaking?

What should I tell the sales professional about the homes I look at?

Tell the sales professional everything you like and don't like about each home you see. Don't be shy about discussing a home's shortcomings. Is the home too small for your needs? Let the sales professional know. Was the home perfect except for the carpeting? Let the sales professional know.

However, remember that there can be two types of sales professionals involved in a real estate transaction; those working for the buyer, and, frequently, those paid by and working for the seller. The seller's agent is obligated to help secure the best price for the seller. In addition, seller's agents may also report any confidences you share with them -- including any willingness to pay a higher price should the seller not accept your initial offer(s). This is why you may want to be represented by a buyer's agent, because he/she will keep your input confidential. A buyer's agent puts the interests of the buyer -- not the seller -- first.

How many homes should I look at before I buy?

There is no set number of homes you should look at before you decide to make an offer on one. That's why providing the sales professional with as many details as possible up front is so helpful. The perfect home may be waiting for you on your first visit. Even if it isn't, the house-hunting process will help you get a feeling for the homes in the community and narrow your choices to a few homes that are worth a second look.

If you're looking in more than one community, try to make the most of each house-hunting trip. Stop by the local Chamber of Commerce to pick up promotional literature about the community or ask the sales professional for welcome kits, maps, and information about schools, houses of worship, and recreational facilities. Also, be sure to take along a camera and snap some pictures of all the homes you're interested in. That will make it easier to remember and reach a decision.

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