First Home Facts

Preparing To Look At Homes For Sale

To many people, going out to look at homes for sale is considered the first step in house hunting. And it is a step that certainly makes you feel like you're knee-deep in house shopping. However, it really should not be the first step in your house hunting journey. Here are a few preparatory tasks you should tackle before you officially start looking at homes for sale.

Hire a real estate agent.

Some people just walk into the first house for sale that they like, and they talk to the sale agent. This is certainly allowed, but it's not a very wise approach. If you do decide you want to buy that home, you don't have an agent to represent you, so you will either end up having to work with the sale agent — which creates a conflict of interest — or you will have to scramble to find someone at the last minute. It's better to hire a real estate agent before you even start looking at homes. They can accompany you in going to look at homes for sale, and when the time comes, guide you through the process of making an offer and negotiating. 

Apply for mortgages through several banks.

In a slow real estate market, you may have time to find financing before you put in an offer. But in a fast real estate market, you don't stand a chance at getting an offer accepted if you don't already have proof of financing in-hand. So, it's wise to apply for mortgages and get pre-approved before you start looking at houses for sale. Apply at three or more different banks so you can ensure you get a good rate. It's worth waiting an extra week or two to look at homes so that you can be confident you're able to make an offer when you do find one you like.

Make a list of "must-have" features in a home.

If there's one thing you don't want to do when house hunting, it's looking at a bunch of houses that are not at all what you like or need. So before you start visiting houses in person, make a list of must-have features. Then, you can plan on only looking at houses with those particular features, saving yourself a lot of time and headaches.

Once you have an agent, a mortgage approval letter, and a list of must-haves, then you are ready to physically look at homes.