Although I’ve been a homeowner since October 2012, I still feel like I have a lot to learn about the home buying process and what to look for in a first home. There are times when I greatly regret my decisions to become a homeowner at the age of 21 as I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
When I was home sick from work a few weeks ago I spent most of the day laying on the couch dozing in and out of consciousness with HGTV on in the background. Despite not being completely with it during this time, I still managed to pick up a few home buying tips from watching a marathon of “House Hunters.” Here are some of the things I learned:
Don’t Give a Big Price Range to Your Realtor
Your realtor and your banker have a lot in common, they both want to get you to spend more on a house than what you ideally want to spend. Therefore when you get pre-approved for a home loan you shouldn’t plan to spend the full amount the bank approved you for.
In fact, I would suggest not telling your realtor how much you got approved for. Instead you should give a specific price range where you would be more comfortable. The bigger the price range you give your realtor the more homes you’ll look at that are at the top of your price range. After all, the more expensive the house, the more commission your realtor will make.
Do Be Flexible About Your Wish List
Some of the buyers on the TV show have a huge wish list for their house with very specific things, like it must have a separate water closet for the toilet, it can’t have granite countertops (what?!), or it must have a south-facing backyard.
A good realtor will work hard to find properties that fit the majority of your wish list, but it’s likely that there won’t ever be a house that hits every single one of your wish list items. Being willing to compromise will ensure that you still get a house that fits most of your wish list, and hopefully within your budget too.
Don’t Focus on Aesthetics
Any successful homebuyer knows that you need to look past the color of the paint on the walls, what light fixture was selected for the dining room, and what color the finish is on the kitchen cabinets. All of these things can be changed pretty easily.
You can paint over an ugly wall. You can buy and hang a new light fixture, and you can even stain or paint kitchen cabinets. The kitchen cabinet project will likely be the more expensive and time consuming project in this example, but it’s still not a major undertaking.
Instead, you need to focus on things that are not as easily changed when you are shopping for a home. These include the floorplan on the house, the sturdiness of the foundation, and the manner in which the home has been treated and cared for by past owners.
Do View More than Three Properties
For the purposes of the 30 minute TV show, we only get to see the buyers looking at three properties with their real estate agent due to time constraints. In reality, it’s best to visit many more properties than three to find the best match for your budget and your wish list.
It’s also a much longer process to get a house purchased than what it always seems like on the show. Your first offer isn’t always accepted and not every house deal works out perfectly.
Have you ever watched “House Hunters”? What are some other home buying tips you would recommend looking out for? What is one thing you wish you would’ve known when buying your first house?
Photo courtesy of: Jessica Merz
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