Buying Your First Home: A Beginner’s Guide to the Home Buying Process

Part 3: The Search

Step 3: The List

Once you’ve selected your Realtor® and begun browsing online, it’s time to create a list of your needs and wants. If you haven’t already done so, consider scheduling a Buyer’s Consultation to help you evaluate your lifestyle and create your list of non-negotiable and negotiable priorities.

Start by discussing your preferences with your partner, family, and friends to gather recommendations and ensure everyone is on the same page. This can help you identify three key categories: price, location, and features.

For price, you’ve likely already determined your budget when meeting with your lender, but make sure all decision-makers agree on the price range.

In terms of location, consider factors such as school zones, proximity to family and friends, the type of community you want (town, country, or neighborhood), commute time, and whether you want to live in a community governed by a homeowner’s association.

When it comes to features, consider aspects like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, how many levels the home has, the location of the garage and master bedroom, gas versus electric appliances and heating, internet service, the yard’s size and slope, the type of siding, style of home, and type of flooring.

Take your time creating a detailed list with all decision-makers, narrowing it down to no more than three non-negotiable and three negotiable items for each category. Remember that being too specific may limit your options, and it’s okay to adjust your priorities as you begin your search.

Once you’ve created your list, let your agent present a few online home options that meet your criteria. From there, your realtor will schedule showings for at least two or three homes, and you can begin touring and narrowing down your options.

Step 4: The Search

When searching for a house with your Realtor®, it’s wise to first drive by the homes and check out the surrounding area before scheduling a showing. Look at the neighborhood and surroundings, including any potential drawbacks like unappealing features as well as desirable features. If you’re not pleased with what you see, simply call your agent to cancel the showing.

In addition, it’s beneficial to conduct further research on the homes you’re interested in. Consider factors like security, safety, schools, and community features. For example, the Red Bank area may be appealing to some because of its dog park. You can use the internet to find sites that offer information on crime rates, school rankings and reviews, and community features. If it’s a community you’re interested in, check if they have a Facebook page, you may start to meet your new neighbors.

When it’s time to see the house in person, it’s a good idea to bring a pencil and paper to take notes. It’s easy to forget details when looking at multiple homes. Your realtor should provide you with an MLS printout of the house, which will include important details like the age of the house and the roof. They should also bring a CMA, which is a Competitive Market Analysis that will help determine if the house is priced correctly and give you a good indication of what to offer based on the houses that have recently sold in the area.

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