5 Things to Keep in Mind While Searching for Your Next Home

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Are you in the market for a new house? Maybe you’re looking to upgrade into a larger space for your growing family. Or perhaps the kids are out of the house and you’re ready for something smaller, more manageable.

Maybe you’re just desperate for a change of scenery. Or maybe your motivations are known to you alone.

Whatever’s moving you to consider buying a new home, you have your work cut out for you. Houses don’t buy themselves, after all. That’s your job, with the help (one hopes) of a capable, trustworthy real estate agent.

Your agent won’t do all the work for you, unfortunately. It’s on you to set your own expectations and make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew — or settle for a home that’s not up to your exacting standards. Start by keeping these five things in mind as you search.

  1. You’ll Pay Less for a “Project,” But It Won’t Be Easy

The HGTV series, “Fixer Upper,” makes buying homes that need work seem like fun. 

It’s not — at least, not always, and not for all buyers. Before you buy a property that you know will need lots of work, ask yourself: Do I really want to take on all this responsibility?

  1. Tax Value Is Not the Same As Market Value

Using ParcelLookup or a similar website, you can find the tax and market value of just about any property in the United States. However, you need to understand the difference between the two. Tax value is usually much lower than market value, especially when the local real estate market is hot. And market value is closer to what you’ll actually pay.

  1. Your Agent Might Try to Talk You Into More Home Than You Can Afford
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Because they work on commission, real estate agents (some, anyway) do their best to entice buyers with glamorous properties they really can’t afford. Stick to your guns on price, always. 

  1. Location Really Does Matte

You appreciate living in a hip neighborhood now, but if it’s in a terrible school district, you might come to regret your decision. Use a resource like SchoolDigger to research school districts in your area. Do this even if you don’t plan to have kids; homes in good districts tend to hold value better.

  1. Not All Problems Are Evident at a Glance

Unless you’re a structural engineer, you won’t spot that foundation issue until it’s too late. Same goes for plumbing, electrical, and mechanical issues, all of which could cost you a fortune. And your home inspection isn’t guaranteed to spot problems either. As they say: buyer beware!

Get Ready to Move on Your Dream Home

These five pointers alone won’t guarantee you your dream home. But they’ll certainly help you as you search for the perfect place for you and yours. To recap:

  • Don’t go for a “project” house unless that’s what you really want
  • Understand the difference between tax and market value
  • Stick to your guns on price
  • Know all the benefits and downsides of your home’s location
  • Expect the unexpected

Got it? Good. You’re ready to make your move. Here’s hoping it’s the right one.

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