Searching for a home can often feel exciting and stressful at the same time. You may be looking forward to a fresh start, but the entire process can be overwhelming. The key is to work with a great local real estate agent who will guide you through every step. However, you must think critically about such a significant financial investment and make the final decisions.
A successful home search is contingent on thorough planning, setting expectations, and having knowledge about the process. Being prepared and confident can significantly reduce stress and make your home search easier. With this in mind, we put together five expert tips to help you prepare. Let’s dive in!
5 Expert Tips for Your Home Search
1. Plan your timeline in reverse
One of the first questions your agent will ask you is, “What is your timeline for moving?” This is a significant factor because it will set the pace of the entire process. One trick is to plan everything in reverse.
For example, start with the time frame you need to leave your current house or apartment. Let’s say your deadline for moving is September 30. The closing process typically takes 30-45 days, so you should aim to be under contract on the house by mid to late August.
If inventory is low, you may not immediately find what you are looking for. Give yourself at least 2-3 weeks for searching, touring homes, and making offers. This means you should begin seriously looking toward the end of July. Before this, you will need at least a week to meet with your agent, consult a lender, and get pre-approved loan approval.
2. Set reasonable expectations
It is easy to get caught up in the idea of your “dream home.” Many buyers are surprised at how difficult it is to find a house with everything on their wish list. First-time buyers often have to compromise the most since their price range may limit them to starter homes.
Before you set your expectations, browse houses in the price range you discussed with your lender online. Then, make a list of wants and needs for your home search. Rank them by priority to know which features are the most important to you. If you have a flexible timeline, it is okay to be picky, but try not to dwell on easily changed details, such as paint color.
3. Everything is negotiable
Do not be afraid to negotiate with the seller. Many home buyers don’t realize everything is negotiable in a property transaction. This includes the price, conditions of the sale, earnest money, repair costs, home warranty, personal belongings, and any other fees you may incur.
Keep in mind that your negotiating power is entirely dependent on the conditions of the market. For example, if inventory is low and the seller has multiple offers, they will most likely not be willing to negotiate on much.
However, if the house has been on the market for a while and few buyers are interested, you are in a great position to negotiate on costs and terms.
4. Pay attention to the area
When you tour a house, take a drive around the neighborhood and surrounding area as well. Pay attention to nearby houses to see if they are well-maintained. Check out the amenities in the area, such as shopping, dining, and parks, and note how close they are.
Drive by the house again at rush hour to see the traffic. Look for nearby commercial and industrial facilities and determine if they cause environmental hazards. You may also want to research the local schools if you have kids.
Ask your agent about flood zones and if they know of any new developments coming to the area soon. Remember, you are not just moving into the home itself; you are also moving into the community.
5. Beware of surveillance
Our last tip is to beware of surveillance systems at each house you tour. This could be security cameras, baby monitors, video doorbells, or other recording devices. This is important because everything you say or do at someone else’s house may be heard and seen by the owners.
It is okay to ask your agent questions or make remarks about the house’s features, but try not to say anything that may be offensive to the homeowners. In addition, avoid talking about your finances and motivations, as this could diminish your negotiating power if the sellers hear you.
Talk to an Expert
Overall, these tips will help you have a more successful home search, but they do not cover every aspect of the home-buying process. While experienced buyers may have an advantage over first-timers, having a professional agent on your side can level the playing field.
For your next step, talk to a real estate expert in the area where you want to buy a home. Our agents at Sheridan Solomon and Associates are real estate experts in Macon, Warner Robins, and surrounding areas.
Contact us today to connect with a local buyer’s agent who can help you start your home search. You can call us at (478) 746-2000 or visit our website, www.sheridansolomon.com.