"Housing" by James Thompson from Flickr

“Housing” by James Thompson via¬†Flickr

When you’re looking for a new home, there are a lot of things you need to think about. How far do I want to be from work? How much do I want to pay? How much is this house worth?

I’m not a first time home buyer, but my husband and I are looking for our first home together. It’s been a stressful process, especially now that spring is finally here and tons of houses are coming on the market. We’re also working towards staging our own home, but that’s news for another day!

What should you keep in mind when looking for a new home? My top 5 tips are below – please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below!

  1. Know the area. This means checking out recent home sale prices, look into schools and crime reports, basically just do your research when it comes to homes you are interested in. There are tons of resources out there for this, including Zillow and Redfin. If you’re relocating, check the internet for news from that area to see what it’s like to live there.
  2. Talk to your realtor. Make sure you have a good feel for what the homes in that area are going for, and be sure to ask your realtor’s opinion of what they think the market will be like in the next couple of months or years. If the neighborhood is improving year after year, this is a great sign.
  3. Prioritize your needs. My husband really wants a yard and a garage, and I’d like at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. These are the things that are non-negotiable with us. Limiting our search to these options helps us narrow down the type of house that is right for us and our situation. If being closer to work is very important to you, you may need to compromise on space or amenities.
  4. Know what you can afford. You’ll notice that I didn’t say you should compromise on cost. If it helps to speak with a realtor or financial planner, I highly recommend this option. It doesn’t make sense for anyone to be “house poor” especially when the job market is still very vulnerable.
  5. Look past the finishings. Sometimes it’s hard, but try to see past the bright pink little girl room with stickers on every wall and the stained orange carpet. Many times sellers understand these shortcomings and will provide allowances at closing. Focus on the bigger picture – the guts of the house: location, layout, footprint, etc. If the seller is not willing to negotiate, be sure to save some room in your budget to make a few cosmetic updates.and a bonus…
  6. Don’t get disheartened. When I was looking for my first house (well, technically it was a condo), I looked at about 50 different places before I found “The One” – I’d even made an offer on another condo that was rejected. It’s hard to not become beaten down when things don’t seem to go your way, but eventually you will find the right house for you.

Do you have any other suggestions for shopping for a house?

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