How to Search for a Home
What is the best way to search for a house? The most important thing when searching for a home to purchase is to be clear of what you are looking for. Create a list of things you like in a home, a list of features you specifically want, and a list of things your next home must have.
Search for School Zones
If you have children you may prefer to be in one school zone over another. Getting clear school zone boundaries is important to ensure you buy a home in the right area.
Search for Amenities
Some nearby amenities that you might want to consider are: Grocery store? Gas station? Coffee shop? Shopping? Public transportation? Local parks? Other?
Automatic Property Notification
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the number one resource to find new properties for sale. Real estate agents benefit from early access to these listings before they become available to the general public. Your Realtor can set you up for automatic notifications that will email you new listings matching your search criteria. This way you will be among the first to see each listing.
Your time is valuable and sometimes it can be too difficult to go see all the potential properties in person. A good real estate agent is one who can help narrow the property by previewing many of the properties on their own. This way you can focus on seeing only the best of these homes.
Going to open houses can be a great way to see new properties. In many markets, the normal time for open houses is between 2 and 4 on Sunday afternoons. Remember to always keep your real estate agent in the loop and try not to disclose anything to the selling agent which could weaken your negotiating position later in the process.
Keep a Top 3 List
The paradox of choice tells us that sometimes too many options to choose from can create an increased amount of anxiety over the choice. Sometime in the search process, buyers can begin to feel overwhelmed after seeing too many homes. For many this happens after 6 or more home viewings. To remedy this always keep a list of your favorite 3 homes and why. Any other homes that you have looked at need to be forgotten.
Name Homes by Distinguishing Features
The more homes you view, the more they begin to blur together. After a while it begins to be difficult to remember one home over another. The best way to keep the homes straight in your memory is to name them by their most distinguishing features. Some examples of home nicknames could be: “Grandma’s House,” “Big Blue Bathtub,” or “Black Cabinet Kitchen.”
Know Market Prices
When planning on submitting an offer to purchase it is wise to first look at recently sold comparable properties to better understand what real market prices are. Most Realtors do their best to price homes for sale close to actual market prices however there are exceptions to the rule and a home owner may be over asking. If you choose to go with a lower price, be sure to explain your rationale. Your agent should be able to put together this kind of supporting information and comparable properties.
Buying A “For Sale by Owner” Property
There is a segment of the seller market who for different reasons choose to sell their home without the assistance of a listing real estate agent. Many of these sellers still are willing to cooperate with buyer agents if they can bring them a qualified buyer for their home. In most cases then, the buyer’s agent and the home owner can negotiate terms of compensation.
Understanding Easements and Right-of-ways
An easement or right-of-way is an agreement that confers on an individual, company or municipality the right to use a landowner’s property in some way. While these agreements grant rights, they also have the effect of partially restricting an owner’s use of the affected portions of land. For example, if you own property and a utility company has a main gas line passing under your land, it is likely that they will have a registered easement that will guarantee them access to the line and restrict uses or activities that would hamper such access or cause safety concerns. Talk to your real estate agent to learn about any right-of-ways or easements that might affect the property you’re considering.
Meet the Neighbours
Sometimes the best way to learn about the neighbourhood is to speak to the neighbours. Feel free to knock on a few doors and introduce yourself. Chances are you’ll learn something new about the community and you never know….you just might be their next neighbour!
View the Property at Different Times of Week
It’s a good idea to visit the property at different times of the week. Viewing the home during daylight allows you to get a good visual look. Visiting after work hours or on weekends will give you a better feel of community life. A neighbourhood that looks quiet and peaceful during a workday might be noisy and busy during other times of the week.