Six Steps to Narrowing your Home Search

Having a lot of choices can seem like a good thing until you have to whittle the list down to just one final choice. Then the pressure is on and the fear of making the wrong choice can be downright paralyzing. Especially when the decision comes with big consequences. Buying a home is one of those decisions. So what can you do to make the process less daunting? We've put together a list to help you focus the many issues that go into home buying.

1. Price Range

The very first thing you need to do is figure out your price range. There is no point in looking at houses you can't afford. The very first step should be to contact a lender and get a preapproval based on your income, credit score, and finally what you are comfortable having as a house payment. Just because you qualify for more doesn't always mean you want to borrow up to the limit. Figure out your home budget and decide on a reasonable house payment.

2. Location

The next issue that will start to narrow down that search and give you more focus is deciding the area you want to live. This issue has a few factors to consider. For a family with school age children, schools are often a key issue. There are many websites that rate schools. Do your homework and compare a few sites to make a decision about what schools you would consider. It's also important to figure out your commute from the areas you are considering. Think about lifestyle issues that are important to you. Do you love the beach? Do you prefer to be near shopping centers that simplify your life? Do you like to walk to restaurants and entertainment? Check the area's walkability score. Hampton Roads has such a wide variety of locations, you just need to take the time to think about what areas line up with your lifestyle.

3. House Style

Now you're down to thinking about the actual home. Are you a condo kind of person or family? Single family home? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Are you a multi-generational family with needs for extra living spaces? Do you like a big yard, or hate yard work? Is a view important? A good real estate agent can help you work through this labyrinth of questions and come up with a list of options to keep you from losing focus. Your list should have the non-negotiables, like 3 bedrooms is a must with a son and daughter. Then have your negotiable list of features that are desirable, but you would be willing to budge on. An open floor plan might be what you are envisioning, but the ranch style home in the great school district might trump your wish list.

4. Stay Open Minded

It can be hard to know what your priorities actually are until you start looking. Your thoughts can change as you start to look at what is actually available. Some of those must have items on your list can shift as you see what is available. In a perfect world you may want a first floor master, but when you see the house that hits all your other desires, you might be willing to bend on that one.

5. Record Your Thoughts

As you tour the houses you and your agent have targeted, keep your lists with you and make notes about each of the houses. It helps to have printouts of the homes with the address and at least an exterior picture of the home, so you can stay straight on the features and details of each home. After touring your third and fourth home you'll start to feel the houses running together. Did the house with the beautiful master suite also have the marble countertops? Or was that the one with the drab green living room? Keeping detailed notes about the things you love and hate about the homes relieves some of the pressure to remember it all.

6. Be Ready to Make a Decision

There comes a point that you just have to make that hard decision. Sometimes there's an impulse to keep looking until you find that perfect house. But the reality is, the perfect house may not exist. Like most decisions in life, you need to make the best choice, not the perfect choice. Sit down and look at your lists. Narrow down your choices to your top two. Then finally choose your number 1. The sooner you can put in an offer, the more likely that you'll get your first choice. Be ready to consider your second choice if the first choice goes under contract before you get to it. With the help of your agent you'll be able to put an offer in as soon as you are able to pull the trigger.

If you're ready to put these suggestions into practice, our experienced agents at FitRealty are here to assist you. Give us a call today to set up a free buyer consultation. Let our agents expertly guide you through the home buying process.

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Categories: Home Buying

Cities: Virginia Beach Chesapeake Norfolk Williamsburg Newport News Hampton Suffolk

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