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First steps

Whether you're a first-time home buyer or a home-buying veteran, there are some steps you ought to take to kick off your home buying process.

 

If you’re a first-time buyer please check out our section for first-time buyers. That page covers a few extra items not covered here.

Choosing a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is invaluable in helping you to not only find and buy a home, but they're also great sources of information with little details leading up to the sale. We're not going to tell you how to choose a real estate agent, but we do want to offer a few tips.

Choose an agent that is familiar with the neighborhood where you're looking to buy. An agent who has knowledge of your preferred neighborhoods can help save you from making a big mistake. If the agent is unfamiliar, seek out additional information on the home, street and neighborhood or your choice.

Make sure you like your agent. You're going to spend a lot of time together. Make sure everyone gets along. You may well disagree over some aspects of the purchase, so it will help if you have a bit of a friendship to fall back on.

A veteran agent vs. a rookie. Yes, a veteran agent will bring a great deal of know-how and savvy to the sale, but in some cases a new agent will go the extra mile to prove themselves. It's your choice, but consider your alternatives.

If the agent averages a home sale price that is substantially higher than your price range, you may not get their full attention.

What's your agent's typical home sale price? You may think the reason for asking this question is to make sure they'll get the best price for you, but that's not why. If the agent averages a home sale price that is substantially higher than your price range, you may not get their full attention. After all, if you worked on commission would you first help the person with $500,000 to spend or the one with $200,000 to spend?

Short-term vs. long term investment

Are you going to keep this house for two or three years or are you looking to stay here until the kids are out of school? The answer to this will go a long way to determining whether or not schools are important to you; does the air conditioning need to be replaced or will it hold out for your duration there? Can you live with the bad flooring and paneling for a couple of years? These are considerations which will be answered if you have an idea how long you plan to keep the house.

Create your "Deal-Breakers" List

Either in your head, or on paper, consider creating a "deal-breakers" list. This is a list of features or circumstances that you're absolutely not willing to live with. Items on the list of deal-breakers may include, old plumbing, a lousy kitchen, lack of air-conditioning, etc. Knowing to check for this ahead of time saves a lot of uncertainty later on.

Location.

Where you're looking to buy is often determined by your budget. Knowing how much you have to spend will go a long way in determining where your home search will be concentrated.

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