Interest rates and home prices are low. Your credit is in order, and you’re sick of renting. Ready to start your house hunt?
Finding the perfect home can take some time, so don’t be hesitant to start your house hunt early. It takes the average homebuyer 12 weeks to find a home to purchase, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Kick off your house hunt today with our congratulations, and via one of the following resources:
It’s no surprise that many house hunters start their home searches online. According to the NAR’s 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 35 percent of last year’s buyers launched their house hunts by viewing online listings.
Any local agent should have a user-friendly website with a comprehensive list of your area’s for-sale homes. Check realty sites frequently, as new listings can pop up at any time.
TIP: Listing websites are great for viewing photos and details of a home. But don’t immediately discard a home if the photos are uninspiring. It’s tough to get the real feel of a home until you step through the front door. If a home meets several of your qualifications but isn’t too photogenic, consider a home tour. A personal visit may give the home a totally different feel.
Find a Buyer’s Agent
If you’d rather have personal guidance right away, consider hitting the streets with a real estate agent by your side. The NAR report found that 21 percent of homebuyers in 2011 started their house hunts by finding a good buyer’s agent.
Agents can be immensely helpful during your house hunt. Knowledgeable agents can direct you to good schools, appreciating neighborhoods and prized properties. Agents can also be expert negotiators who can help you get the most for your money.
TIP: VA-savvy agents can be particularly valuable to military homebuyers. Military-friendly agents can steer you to homes that will easily pass the VA appraisal and answer any questions you may have about the VA loan process. Contact Veterans United Realty at 800-985-5723 to find an agent who works routinely with military buyers.
Drive Through Neighborhoods
Cruising through desirable neighborhoods can be a fun way to gawk and dream. You may even spot a “for sale” sign in front of a gorgeous, well-priced property. Eight percent of buyers started their house hunt by driving through neighborhoods in search of “for sale” signs, according to the 2011 NAR report.
TIP: Ambling through town can be a great way to understand the differences between areas. Neighborhoods can take on very distinct personalities, from hip and trendy to quiet and charming. Spend time in a variety of locations to find a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle.
Attend Open Houses
Dropping by an open house can be an easy way to tour a nice home and possibly meet a great real estate agent. Approximately 4 percent of home buyers attend an open house as the first step of their home search, according to NAR.
TIP: Open houses can be a great way to meet your future real estate agent. But be cautious of overly aggressive agents who want you to sign a buyer’s agency agreement after the first handshake. A buyer’s agreement creates a formal, legal relationship between you and an agent. Don’t enter into any agreement unless you’re convinced you’ve found the perfect agent for you.
Happy house hunting!
Photo courtesy of