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June 6, 2017

House Hunting: 3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Hunt

Shopping for a new home is arguably one of the most stressful and exciting chapters in a person’s life. It’s totally normal to have questions and fears about house hunting. What should you try to avoid? What should you be looking for? How will you know when you’ve found the right place? There are some preliminary things you should understand when searching for your dream home:

      The ideal real estate agent isn’t pushy and won’t pressure you into buying a house.

      You will instinctively know that you’ve found the house that will be your home.

      Don’t low-ball the bid—while you’re busy weighing your options, you might think it acceptable to offer a low bid. This can backfire.  A higher-paying bidder could buy the house out from under you, or the current homeowner could be offended and refuse to sell the house to you outright.

The last thing that you’ll want to hear is your agent telling you that the seller accepted another offer minutes after your own was submitted. With all of that said, let’s take a closer look at some of the things you should be looking for that’ll help you weed out the good, the bad and the ugly.

Spot a Bad Roof
When walking up the pathway of home your realtor promises you’ll love, the first thing you’ll notice about will be its exterior.

While most of your attention is going to be diverted toward the windows, landscaping and entrance of the house, make sure you take a look at the roof. If the roof is sagging, the shingles are faded or there is something “just not right,” then it probably means something is wrong.

Ask your agent about when the last time there was work done to the roof.

Getting your roof repaired or replaced is a huge undertaking that can be very costly. If you have to do this right after buying your home, you chance sinking into a money pit

Focus on Structural Issues, Not Cosmetic
This is it. The one. You finally found your dream house. Until you step inside and, gasp—shag carpets! 70s style wood panel walls! The interior is a feng shui disaster, but that doesn’t mean you should run away and never look back. The inside of a home can be changed easily, but the bones of the house cannot. Focus on the things that will be difficult to repair, like: broken light fixtures, electrical shortages and a sagging roof.

Alternatively, even if the house looks brand new and completely renovated, you should still be looking for symptoms of a poorly maintained home. Just because it has a fresh coat of paint and upscale décor doesn’t mean that the owner is hiding a more serious problem. Remember that structural errors can create issues and hazards inside the home that not even the best homeowners insurance will be able to solve.

Get Your Hands Dirty
When you’re going through the house, you want to make sure that it’s going to be in working order. Turn on every light, every faucet, taste the water, test the water pressure and flush all of the toilets. 
There are a ton of moving pieces inside of a house that work together to make it a home. Test every appliance, fixture and even curb appeal to make sure that everything is in good working order.

The hunt for a new home can be exhilarating and it is important to have fun, but it’s even more important to be cautious and smart.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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