House Hunting Secrets

Experienced home buyers know that there’s more to look for in homes for sale than a good neighbourhood and a sturdy foundation. They shop with their hearts, their heads – and with the expert advice of a real estate professional. If you’re looking at buying a house, here are some savvy steps to follow.

1. Know how much you want to spend

Do your homework and define your budget before you even start looking at properties for sale. Don’t get caught in that trap of setting your heart on that perfect home that you can’t afford. Get a pre-approved mortgage or consult with your lender of choice. Keep your eye on the market, since any changes could impact what you can afford.

2. Scope out the neighbourhoods

Before you start looking at individual homes for sale, figure out which neighbourhoods you would prefer to live in. Check important details such as:

  • How close are the local schools,
  • Are there nearby stores?
  • How easy is access to highways and public transit?

Also, check common areas in a community like parks and playgrounds. Their upkeep can say a lot about how the residents feel about their neighbourhood, so look for tell-tale signs of neglect or regular maintenance. Your real estate agent can advise you on which neighbourhoods are selling well, which is a strong indicator of where people want to live.

3. Make a list

Make a wish list of all the elements of a property that are important to you, your family and your lifestyle.  Divide it up into

  • must-haves features
  • would-be-nice items
  • deal breakers

Carry this list with you so that you can compare homes on the basis of your personal wants and needs. Remember, it’s unlikely you will find a property that ticks every box, which is why your list needs to be prioritized.

4. Find a home inspector

Have a home inspector at the ready before you locate your ideal home to buy. He or she may be able to offer you extra pointers for things to look out for when you first see a place.

5. Take your time

Don’t try to squeeze more than four viewings into a single day – it can be more confusing than convenient. Take photos and make note of the pros and cons after viewing each property, so you can take a look at the next home without struggling to remember details about the one before. If you want to take pictures or measurements, make sure you have asked permission first. It’s not your house yet!

6. Street sense

Ask about mutual driveways, parking, zoning bylaws and upcoming construction. You may be in a neighbourhood that is about to be receiving power line upgrades or road repairs that can wreak havoc on getting from point A to point B after you move in.

7. Be a legal eagle

Ask for a survey of the property for sale, and take a good look at it. Fences may not be on actual property lines and right-of-way issues may come into play in the future with the sale of the home next door. Always hire a lawyer to inspect all of the paperwork related to a prospective purchase and to advise you.

8. Get a second opinion

If you’ve found a home that really appeals to you, always view it twice. sFor the second visit, take a trusted friend or relative who will be honest with you. Let them do all the talking in case they see something you hadn’t noticed. Having someone who isn’t personally vested in the property can give you the objective opinion you need before you make your decision.

9. Think it through

In the excitement of viewings in a rising property market, it can be hard not to make an immediate offer. Be sure to step back, pull out your list and carefully gauge if this property meets all of your must-have criteria. Savvy house buyers say that when you find the right property, you can feel it down to your bones. If that’s the case for you, see if you can wait a day (or a few hours) before making an offer. The only thing worse than buyer’s remorse is letting a dream home get away.

Ask your estate agent

Estate agents are a great source of information on your local property market, including what’s hot and what’s not. At Your Local Real Estate Team, we’re always happy to talk through any questions you have, even if you’re at the very early stages of considering a house move.