House Hunting Tips
- Get Pre-Approved. Any real estate agent worth their salt should ask you about pre-approval from the get go. You might think you are looking for home in the 400K range, only to find via a mortgage broker, that you are really looking for homes in the 250K-300K range. That's a big difference and can save everyone a great deal of time, energy, and heartache.
- Stick to Your Budget. Once you get your pre-approval, you might think, "Yahoo! We qualify for more than we thought!" But perhaps the pre-approval didn't take into consideration the $10,000 personal loan you're paying back to your favorite aunt who helped you through college (and doesn't show up on a credit report). Does the figure leave you enough money to pay all of your other bills and save money? Don't forget that once you own a home, there is no landlord to call when things go wrong because you're the landlord. Make sure you have enough to save for house repairs as well as for your own future financial health. Stick to that figure and don't let yourself be tempted by the, "what's another 50K?" mentality. "Just-Another-50K" can be the difference between being able to pay your mortgage or not later on.
- Be Realistic. Everyone is entitled to have a dream home in mind, but if you are a first-time home buyer looking for real estate, this might not be the time to have it all. A jacuzzi tub, his/her sinks, and a sitting area in the master bedroom are lovely, but perhaps not for this time around. Find a few things you treasure in a home and then be ecstatic when you find a sweet house (in your price range) that has them.
- Potential. Sometimes it's important to see the potential in a home because you can create your vision over time. If you have a hard time visualizing, consider bringing a contractor- or design-savvy friend along who can help you imagine simple changes to transform the space into your ideal home.
- Take Photos. You might look at dozens of houses before you find "the one." Take lots of exterior/interior pictures so you can keep the houses straight later on. Upload them into address organized files on your computer for future viewing.