7 Tips for Easier House Hunting

We’re still in the midst of our house hunt.  It has definitely been a learning experience for me.  Since we are looking at different cities around the Minneapolis suburbs area, it gets a bit confusing at times.  I’ve never lived in this area, or even near it, so all the searches turn up unfamiliar neighborhoods.  Thankfully The Hub is from here so he’s guiding the search.  Having gone through a long couple of weeks, I thought I’d pass along some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

  • Before you start your search, talk to your banker and get preapproved for a mortgage. You can’t go out looking for your dream home if you don’t know what you can afford.
  • Make a wish list. Get the whole family involved in determining what you’re looking for. The Hub’s minimum request was at least two garage spaces, The Caboose wanted country life near a snowboard hill. I don’t want a bunch of traffic or neighbors right next door. Will we all get our wishes? Probably not. But at least we have a good place to start.
  • Start your search online. Look at sites like Realtor.com for home listings. Here you can enter a very detailed wish list and set a price ceiling. I definitely suggest searching a little over your budget’s max. House prices drop as demand wanes, and the longer they sit, the better the chance is that you could make a lower-price offer. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • Find a realtor you can trust to represent you. They have access to all sorts of information and can help to streamline your search. Having someone to set up showings, find out background details, or work with the seller’s realtor is a must. If you don’t know a realtor, check the local Chamber or a business networking group.
  • Location does matter! Pay attention to any nearby train tracks, busy streets, high schools, etc. that will increase traffic and noise around your new home. You may think walking distance to school is handy, but just remember how many kids will be driving and perhaps looking for parking. And even if you wax poetic about the lonesome call of the train whistle, it may not be so romantic in the middle of the night a block away.
  • As you do your showings, wear comfortable clothes so you can peak in crawl spaces, attics, and basement nooks and crannies. Wear shoes that go on and off easily, since most sellers request you remove them upon entering the house.
  • Bring paper and pen! After a few showings they all start to run together. You’ll want to remember which house had certain traits and you don’t want to rely on your memory for this. It is helpful to have a listing detail page printed out for each house you see, that way you’ll have the specs for each house at your fingertips.

When the time comes and you find the house you want, be prepared to write an offer and have an inspection.  But, as I learned the hard way, don’t become emotionally attached until the inspection comes back.  Little things can lurk behind the scenes and it’s much easier to walk away before you’ve imagined your furniture in the living room.  Happy house hunting!


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