As a first-time buyers in Massachusetts, my husband and I had to go through the thorny road of home buying last year that was full of unexpected challenges and lots of learning along the way. In the age when information sharing is burgeoning and so many useful tools are available at your fingerprints, home buying process can become quite an enjoyable and rewarding process if you approach it from the right angle and with the right set of tools. I wanted to share some useful tips and tricks that can help my fellow first-time home-buyers in their house hunting.
- Use your imagination!
Notion of a “Dream House” is probably one of those things that epitomizes the first time home buyers’ naivety. There is REALLY no such a thing as a “Dream House”. Each house that you will see will either require work, or will miss that one more additional bathroom, or master suite will not be as large as you wanted it to be, or back yard will not be fenced in, and on and on. Use your imagination to see beyond all the imperfections because, of course, you will notice those first. You need to like the “personality” of the house and identify whether or not it will satisfy major requirements for you and your family.
- Determine area where you would like to be in.
You can always change everything in the house, add rooms, add bathrooms but you will not be able to move your house to a different location. Therefore, you need to decide what are you looking for: being closer to work? City apartment? privacy? good school system? prestigious location? http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ is a great website to check out your neighborhood. Using this site, you will be able to find appreciation rates for your city/town in your state and in the country. For example, here are appreciation rates for Lexington, MA:
You can also check school system rating :
And crime rates in the area:
Save some money!
I highly recommend http://www.redfin.com/home. Of course, it is different from using traditional buy side real estate agent who will take your wish list, perform a research and drive you around to show houses that they think fit your requirements. If you go with redfin you would need to perform a research on your own, visit on your own. Of course this would impact your available free time, however, for people who are self-starters and know what they want this is a perfect find. Site’s interface is very convenient and easy to navigate. You can select your own criteria for search and look at the pictures and house characteristics. You can view open houses near you or schedule a visit though a RedFin agent (yes, they do have agents who are extremely helpful and will assist you with contract preparation and closing of course). Mobile app is super useful too! Benefits? The biggest one is cost saving! You get 2.5-3% of seller’s commission back from RedFin upon closing!
4. Watch HGTV
Typically, I do not watch TV – news channels only. However, after discovering HGTV it not only became my advisor throughout the home buying process but also a source for lots of inspiration for various home improvement projects after the purchase:) “Property Virgins” on Mondays is highly recommended – http://www.hgtv.com/property-virgins/show/index.html. Hopefully, this will help you to learn not on your own mistakes 🙂
5. Get public records and Zestimate
And finally…. After you have found a house that you would like to make an offer for… Of course, you should talk to your redfin agent who will perform analysis on the neighbourhood and will make a recommendation for a bid price. Thats great, but as always- double check! Use http://www.zillow.com/ to check Zestimate – zillow’s estimate market value of a home, selling history, prices of the recently sold homes in your desired neighborhood, tax assessment value and more. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share your experiences or have any questions about this post. Thank you!