The home search can be the most fun part of buying a new home — but it can also be pretty challenging. Make it easier on yourself by keeping these tips in mind.
Your agent is a valuable partner in the homeshopping process. You not only want to find someone who is experienced, trustworthy, and familiar with your desired neighborhood(s) but also with whom you “click.” You’ll be working with them a lot!
A really good agent will also have appraisers, inspectors, and contractors that they work with regularly and trust implicitly. This is super important to ensure any home you choose to bid on is worth your investment.
We’re not going to sugar-coat this: It can take months to find a new home. Months. And seeing a dozen houses every weekend for months can push you to the point of thinking, “I'll take anything. Let’s just get this over with!”. Don’t let yourself get to this point. There are some steps you can take to avoid decision fatigue and keep searching for the right home, not the right now home.
Even before you start househunting, you should make a list of features that you must have and things that you would like to have but aren’t critical. Your list could look something like this:
Once you’ve narrowed down the most essential features, it’s time to make a checklist. Some of the information will come from your agent and the home’s MLS listing; some you’ll have to observe yourself.
Download and print out this comprehensive checklist for each home you visit.
If you’re in a seller’s market, you may encounter a lack of good inventory, high sales prices, and even challenges from other buyers that could result in a bidding war. Your agent should be able to navigate you through these choppy waters, but it’s good for you to have a general idea of what you might encounter. Here’s what to expect in a typical bidding war situation:
The seller’s real estate agent lets all buyers’ agents know when bids will be accepted and reviewed.
Work with your agent to come up with a bid. Be sure to listen to your agent's advice! If competition is super fierce, your agent may suggest some concessions:
Offer higher than the asking price
Waive some contingencies
Offer a fast closing — submit your paperwork to me ASAP and respond to all communications from your agent and me as fast as you can!
Write a letter to the seller
Your bid may be turned down. If that’s the case, you’ll need to decide whether you want to offer more money or waive other contingencies to sweeten the deal.
The seller may come back to you with a counteroffer. Review it carefully with your agent to see if you can accept the terms.
You may go back and forth a few times, but once your offer is accepted, you’re ready to start your inspections!
No, it's not mandated by law, but any agent or lender worth their salt will tell you to get the standard inspections. A trained and licensed inspector will look for damages, deterioration, and other issues with the home that an untrained eye may miss.
Things an inspector will look for:
Pest damage (such as termites)
Dry rot and fungus
Electric and plumbing systems working properly and up to code
Many other faults and features
Depending on your location, you may need separate inspections for the roof, sewer line, and pests. You’ll get a lot of photos, information on your breakers and water shut-off, and other bits of info from the inspectors’ reports. When you’re buying a home, surprises are the last thing you want, so be sure you get those inspections!