Finding a Home
Search for a REALTOR®
In your search for a home, a REALTOR® will help you find a home that fits your needs. He or she may suggest potential lenders and provide information about the local schools, stores property tax, etc. When you are ready to make a purchase offer to the seller, your REALTOR® usually will be the one to present that offer. It will include the means of financing you will be using for the purchase.
The seller will typically pay the REALTOR's® commission, based on the selling price of the house, so you will probably not be responsible for that fee. You should, however, strongly consider enlisting a "buyer's agent" - a REALTOR® who will represent your interests in the transaction.
To find a REALTOR® in your area, click here. And to find a REALTOR® certified as a Workforce Housing Specialist (WHS), click here. WHS-certified REALTOR® are familiar with local home purchase assistance programs for low-income and moderate-income families.
Looking at homes
What kind of home do you want to buy -- new or old? Do you want a detached single family home, a townhouse, or a condominium? There are many types of homes to choose from. What's important is what is best for you.
Where do you want to live? How close to schools, your job, a grocery store, or public transportation do you want to be? Do you want a yard or would you prefer not to have a lawn to take care of? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you and your Realtor narrow your search for a home.
Make sure that any special requirements you have -- such as parking, access to bus service, air conditioning, or wheelchair accessibility -- are part of the property you want to purchase.
Before looking at homes, you may want to put together a list of "what is required" and "what you would prefer". Then, when you see a home, you can make a note of what you liked and disliked, and what requirements were met and not met. Sometimes taking a picture of each home you visit will help you recall specific features of the property. A REALTOR® may also provide photos of the properties you visit.
Once you've found a house and feel ready to make an offer, it's a good idea to check out the neighborhood several times – at different times of day and night, and on different days of the week. This, along with talking with your potential new neighbors, will help you get a true sense of the neighborhood activity. It's also a good time to take a more critical look at the house, searching for problems or flaws that may have escaped your attention when you were falling in love with it!
Location and Condition of the Property
Consider the exact location of the property. If the property is on a busy street, for example, the market value of the property may be somewhat less than if the home were on a quiet residential street. If the price of the property is less than other similar homes because of the location, keep in mind when it's time to sell that you will probably also have to sell for less than comparable homes in more desirable areas.
The condition of the home is also important to consider. If the home is in need of repair, you should consider how much money you will need to make the repairs, and most important, if you'll have the money after you purchase the property.
Repairs that involve heating and cooling systems, plumbing, roof, and other structural components can sometimes be very costly. You should know of major problems in a home before you make an offer. As a potential buyer, you should carefully examine all elements of the home.
You may want to consider including a contingency in your sales contract that calls for a professional home inspection. This can provide you with the peace of mind of knowing that your potential home has been inspected for structural flaws and any electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling, and other systems work properly. This can help protect you from purchasing a home that needs expensive repairs.