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Find a House

By - 2006

Need to find a house? We'll assume you have already chosen the town in which you will be buying your home. (If not, see the page on Researching Affordable Towns.) Should you get online and start looking there? Should you call a real estate agent? Look in the papers? Real estate guides?

At some point in the process you will probably do all of the above. How you do it matters, though, especially if you have limited time to search for your new home. Try the following routine to find a house most efficiently.

1. Look at real estate guides, newspapers, and online real estate listings. Don't spend a lot of time on this first step. This is just to let you know what is available and what neighborhoods you may like to live in. You need a little information so you can ask yourself the right questions.

2. Now take some time to decide what is truly important to you in a house. Write down the minimum requirements you need to be happy in a home. You can always your upgrade expectations later in the process if your budget allows for it. Your real estate agent will be pushing you to buy more home in any case. Write down what you need, and the price limit. Make a copy for the real estate agent.

3. Find a good real estate agent. Not sure who to choose? Ask a lot of questions. Look in the real estate advertisements for the real estate agent who is selling the most homes of the type you want and in the area you want. He or she is likely to be the most knowledgeable and helpful.

4. Have the real estate agent set up showings of homes that meet your criteria on a day when you have time. Try for six or more prospective homes. These should be based on your criteria. Tell the agent if you find a house in the newspaper or online that you want to see.

5. Arrive in town for the showings early, and drive by all the homes you will be shown. Often you can eliminate several without wasting time going inside (too small, wrong neighborhood, etc.). Tell the agent you won't need to see those houses. If you live in the same town you are buying a house in, do this step before the agent sets up the listings.

6. Repeat steps four and five if you need to. You may need to walk through a dozen homes or more to find the house you want.

Unless your agent is specifically a buyer's agent, he works for the seller, so be careful. Anything you say can be used against you. This doesn't mean she can't help you. In fact, she can try her best to find exactly the home you need.

However, once you decide to make an offer on a specific home, her job as a seller's agent is to try to get you to pay as much as possible, and to pass on to the seller any information she obtains from you. Good negotiating skills on your part help here. That, of course, is another topic, and first you need to find a house.


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