House Hunting and Showings
Buying a home will probably rank as one of the biggest personal investments anyone can make. Being organized and in control will contribute significantly to getting the best home deal possible with the least amount of stress. It’s important to anticipate the steps required to successfully achieve your housing goal and to build a plan of action that gets you there. Whether you are a first-time home buyer or have bought and sold numerous homes, use the guide below for helpful hints and tips plus learn how to avoid common mistakes when buying a home in the Blair County, PA area.
Knowing how much you can afford is the first step because sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been Pre-Approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when perusing homes that may be out of your price range. Also, if you find your absolute dream home and don't have a pre-approval, the chances are quite reasonable that another buyer may make an offer with a pre-approval and you may end up losing your dream home to another buyer. It can take 2 or 3 days to get your pre-approval - that's a long time when your dream home is available on the open market to other purchasers who likely already have a pre-approval. Many lenders will provide a pre-approval free of charge or with nominal charges they even permit you to pay when you close the loan. Ask your specific lender.
2) Make a List of Needs and Wants
Make two lists: the first list should include items you MUST have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list should include your WANTS - things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for finding a home that's right for you.
3) Representation by a Professional
You definitely want your own Buyer's Agent. A buyer's agent will represent and work for YOU, not the seller. It likely will cost you nothing extra, so be sure to read our page on Choosing an Agent.
4) Most important
Get out and look at some homes once you have your pre-approval. The more homes you view now, the better prepared you will be when the right house comes along. It takes the average buyer around seven to nine months to find the right home from when they begin their search. We see some buyers make the mistake of waiting until they see the absolute perfect home go up for sale and then ask for a tour without having previously toured any (or very few) homes. If buyers don't make the time to tour and view any homes, they may have trouble coming up with a perspective of the overall market and home values. As a result it becomes difficult to make what feels like a well-considered buying decision when your absolute dream home is now for sale right in front of you! As a buyer, there is no substitute for getting out and viewing homes. When in doubt, check it out and call us for a tour!
5) Focus and Organization
In a convenient location, keep the items handy that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include: maps, a list of the properties you would like to view, MLS sheets, notepad and pen for taking notes as you search, a camera to snap pictures (if the seller permits) of homes you have toured to help you remember your favorites and features you really liked.
6) Visualize the home with your furnishings and décor
Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough room for your furnishings and belongings? Does the floorplan and flow work for your specific needs? It can help to take room measurements to make certain your furnishings will nicely fit. Just remember to plan around windows, door openings, closets and the like. If you have serious doubts your furniture will fit in a certain room and the home is mostly vacant, consider using blue painter's tape (with the seller's permission) to mark the floors exactly where your furniture will be placed. This method makes it easier to visualize the space and layout of the room with your furniture in place. Of course, remove all tape when finished.
7) Neighborhood and location
Always remember the three most important things in real estate: location, location, location! Check out the neighboring homes on the block. Do they exhibit pride of ownership or appear to be rundown and in disrepair? Remember, the home you are buying may never be worth more than the most expensive home in the neighborhood, so keep that in mind when buying. Is the home easy to access and close to major highways, work places, schools, shopping, etc.? The last thing you probably want is to be inconvenienced by the location and travel to work, schools, shopping, etc. Is the area known for crime and/or other negative influences such as Megan's Law offenders? Realtors don't keep crime statistics, so you may want to check online and with local law enforcement to be sure.
8) Parking and storage
Does the home offer off-street and/or garage parking for all the vehicles in your family? Is there enough room in the home for all of your belongings? Will all of your stored items fit into the storage areas of the home?
9) Be Objective
Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Try not to get caught up in emotions if you find a home that you really love and find to be charming. Does the home really meet all of your needs? Ask your agent or bring along a trusted relative or friend on a showing before making your final decision. There may be many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision you may regret later.
10) Be Thorough
A few extra dollars spent now on inspections and due diligence may save you big expenses in the long run. Check out our guide to Making an Offer once you find the right home you wish to purchase.
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please contact us directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.