7 Steps for Buying a Home: Searching Homes

7 Steps for Buying a Home: Searching Homes


Buying a Home

You’ve got the cash for a down payment and you making monthly mortgage payments is something you can handle. With housing prices depressed, now could be a terrific time to buy your new home.

Finding the home that is right for you does take time, but you can shorten the process considerably by taking the following three steps:

Find An Agent — Some realtors really know their stuff while others have a lot to learn. Many realtors fall somewhat in between, but I prefer dealing with agents who know the local market in and out. Your criteria might be different but this is what I want when choosing an agent: someone who represents my interests above all else, a person who has been working in real estate for a number of years, and someone who has advanced themselves in their work — preferably to become a broker.

Our most recent home purchase involved a relocation to North Carolina, to an area we weren’t familiar with. The real estate agent I selected was also a broker and had at one time lived in our subdivision. We didn’t have a lot of time to run around looking at homes, but with our exact specifications given every home she showed us was close to what we desired. Her legwork kept us in family friendly neighborhoods, away from traffic, and close to schools and business. Her knowledge of MLS got us into a home just hours after it went on the market. It also happened to be the last home we saw, the one that we liked and chose to buy.

Choosing A Location — I purchased my first home while I was still single, but with an eye to the future: I wanted a home in a top notch school district and in a neighborhood that was safe. Although I wasn’t even dating my future wife at the time I thought that living where families wanted to live was a good decision. Sure enough, home prices in our town tripled in ten years time, I eventually married, and we started a family. When it came time to sell our home and move out-of-state, we were able to come out ahead on the deal.

In addition to the schools and the neighborhood and the condition of the home, the home’s setting on the street and the town’s reputation all worked out well in my decision. It took a lot of patience on my part, but it paid off big time.

Selecting An Architectural Style — There are more than two dozen home style categories with hundreds of variations available. You’ll quickly narrow that list down by choosing between a condominium and a detached residence, a Victorian versus a Split Level, and so on. Even if you still are left with a few different options, you’ll find the pared down list much easier to manage then one where you haven’t eliminated homes that are of no interest to you.

Your Personal Search

I must admit that I always keep up on my local market as well as markets that interest me by doing some online research from time to time. I like to search FSBO listings and search foreclosure listings to understand how the market is going. My cable television operator makes it easy to search new homes with a click of the remote, but I also like to pull up Craigslist ads, visit Realtor.com, search specific realtor sites, and get copies of real estates guides and the local newspaper. Sometimes the information can be overwhelmingly, but at least it can empower the home buyer to complete his or research with ease.

Once you have found the home that you want, then choosing a mortgage is the next step. Check out our 12-Step Mortgage Lending guide to make selecting a mortgage a low hassle task.


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Categories: Home Buying

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".