The search is on: Ways to make the most of your house hunting trip

It has been said that moving and divorce are the two of the most stressful events a person or family can experience. Divorce is a subject for another time. Let’s consider the event of moving and look at some ways to make your house hunting trip less stressful and more effective.

Location is the first factor to consider when planning a move. If you have children, or are planning a family, you will want to know about the schools in the area. How about shopping centers, medical facilities, recreational opportunities and of course how far will you be from your place of employment. If you require public transportation, is there any within walking distance of your prospective new home. What about the crime rate? A check with the local law enforcement agency can either put your mind at ease or give you reason to look elsewhere. And finally, try to assess the quality and character of the people who live in the area. This is obviously difficult to do without interviewing them, but you can get a rough impression from the condition of their homes and properties and from the activities you might observe. As an example, if your prospective neighbor has discarded appliances all over the front yard and their son is roaring around the neighborhood on a mini-bike with no muffler, you might want to take all that into consideration. And remember, a poor location will definitely be a negative factor when and if you attempt to resell the home at some later date.

Once you’ve zeroed in on your preferred location, you can start to think seriously about searching for your dream home. Rather than spin your wheels by looking at houses randomly, you should determine what you really want in a house and let those things help you focus your search. Make a list and start with the obvious: how many bedrooms do you need; do you want a garage; must you have a single story home due to your inability to climb stairs; is a fenced yard an absolute necessity? After listing the absolute “must haves”, think about the things you like and dislike about your current residence and factor those things into your wish list. Making a list will not only save you time, it will be a big help to your realtor in planning your viewings.

Most people don’t really know how much house they can afford. Affordability is based upon income, credit status, interest rates, down payment, closing costs and the type of loan selected. By getting pre-qualified by a lending institution, you will know what you can afford to spend. Often, that figure is quite a surprise to prospective home buyers. In any case, pre-qualification will save you time and trouble by establishing your price range.

Typically, house hunting involves seeing as many homes as possible in a short period of time. Both the house hunter and the assisting realtor have busy schedules and want to tour fast and furious. However, after the first two or three houses, they all start to run together. You need to make notes after each viewing. One effective means of qualifying each home is to make multiple copies of your list of priorities and use it as a checklist to grade each home visited. This little tip will eliminate confusion when trying to make mental comparisons at the end of the day.

Regard your hunt as an excursion. If you were going to the zoo for the day and contemplated a lot of walking, you would dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes. House hunting is no different; you’ll be walking, climbing stairs, quite possibly going into basements and attics and constantly getting in and out of cars. Dressing to impress homeowners or your realtor should not be your top priority. Dress clean and neat of course, but comfortable is the name of the hunting game.

And last but not least, use your own realtor. When you call the realtor on a “house for sale” sign you’re speaking to the seller’s agent. Keep in mind that he or she represents the seller and will be looking after the seller’s interests. You need your own realtor; someone who is working for you and is looking out for your interests.

House hunting can actually be an enjoyable experience if you take your time and do your homework.


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