Understand the Market
Be an informed and sophisticated buyer. If you understand the trends that affect the market you will be in a better position as a buyer. Ask your real estate professional about the following market conditions and trends.
Median Home Price
The median home price gives you the midpoint in the range of sales prices for a specific period. Compare with previous years to determine if prices are rising or falling.
Ask about the number of homes sold during a specific period. The more active the market, the higher the number of homes sold during peak periods.
Days on the Market
Compare the average number of days a home is on the market. A high average could be an indication of a slow market.
There are two types of market conditions that may affect your position as a buyer. In a seller's market, the demand for housing is greater than the supply of homes. In a buyer's market, the supply of homes is greater than the demand.
>> Next "Find a Home" Topic: Narrow the Search
Narrow the Search
Set realistic and well defined goals. You will save yourself much wasted effort if you decide early on what you need, what you want, and what you can afford. Make a list of your priorities and what you can live without and what is absolutely necessary. Your real estate professional will be glad to help you with this process.
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A check list:
Remember that a real estate professional can help you make a more comprehensive list and add valuable insight.
>> Next "Find a Home" Topic: Inspect the Homes
Inspect the Homes
Sometimes finding the right home is easy and it may only take a day or two to decide. Other times it can take months of searching and waiting for just the right home to meet your needs. There are many factors including the market conditions and time of year that affect this time line.
Regardless of how long it takes, there are some basics tips that will make the whole process more enjoyable and more productive.
Work with a Real Estate Agent
A qualified real estate professional will be an enormous asset in your search. Your agent will keep you well informed of all available properties and make arrangements to show you homes.
Don't believe everything your read.
Advertisements, listings remarks and flyers are designed to catch your attention. Make sure that you inspect every home carefully. Not every home "shows" well from a photograph or description. Trust your agent to show you homes that you might otherwise overlook.
Keep Notes - Make a Check List
Make detailed notes on each home. Keep a check list and rate each home you see while you are still there. Ask your agent to give you a copy of the listings data on each home so you have all the basic information available.
>> Next "Find a Home" Topic: Focus Your Search
Focus Your Search
Sit down with your agent and begin to focus your search on the one or two houses that best meet your needs. You should have notes on each house, an understanding of the local real estate market and a list of priorities you made out when you started. It is time to carefully analyze the data and make an informed decision.
Your real estate agent will be able to help you with this task. The important things to remember are:
What are the Market Conditions?
Are you in a buyer's market where you can negotiate a better price or is it a seller's market where you may have to compete with multiple offers? This could be an important consideration when deciding on which home best suits your needs and budget.
What are your Priorities?
Which home best matches the list you made earlier? Have your priorities changed? Of the homes you viewed, are there some that can be easily eliminated by following your list?
Reconsider the notes you have made. Are there any priorities that you have re-thought and now might consider changing. Now is the time to consider where you will compromise and where you will not.
How do the homes that interest you stack up to other homes in the area? Most real estate offices can prepare a comparative market analysis for you. It looks at similar homes in the neighborhood which have sold in the past six months or are currently for sale, and compares their prices and other attributes.
>> Next "Find a Home" Topic: Make a Decision
Make a Decision
Whether it's your first home or your 3rd - making the final decision is the most difficult. You have carefully organized your search and have kept careful notes on each home. Now is the time to really scrutinize all your choices. Spend some time consulting with your real estate professional and then take your time.
You may be torn between two houses that both seem perfect. Now is the time to carefully consider any trade-offs House No. 1 may have all the features you want but the price is high and the seller is unmotivated. House No. 2 may need significant cosmetic work, but has all the other features you want, including the right price. Expect to go back and forth while you're debating your choice.
Resale, resale, resale
There's an old real estate adage: "Buy to live and to sell." You may think you're going to be in your new home for the duration of the mortgage, but chances are you're not. Give sufficient weight to the home's potential resale value, and make sure you have all the facts. A planned expressway a block away could drastically change your home's resale value 20 years from now.
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