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Home Buying Strategies

So, you want to buy a house. Do you pick up the phone and call a real estate agent? Absolutely not!

You donít take an exam without studying if you expect to do well. Buying a home requires preparation on your part. There are questions to be answered before you make that first phone call.

Here we go...

Where do I want to live? You should zero in on a neighborhood that best fits your lifestyle needs. Are the schools top shelf? Is it close to your workplace? Is the neighborhood improving, declining or in transition? Is it convenient to shopping? Is it relatively crime free?

What requirements must the home meet? One story or two? What are the minimum number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and living areas you need? Do you want a formal dining room? What size lot do you need? What type of floors, i.e. wood, tile, carpet, do you prefer? Is a pool necessary? How important is a porch, patio, or deck? Do you require a minimum maintenance exterior?

How much can I afford to pay for this house? This is a biggie! I always and strongly recommend that before you begin your search, you contact at least two lending institutions to 1) see how much you are qualified to borrow 2) get a pre-qualification letter and 3) see what financial ďdealĒ they can provide to you.

Are all real estate agents created equal? Of course not! The yellow pages are ads, not competency ratings. The name on an existing real estate sign doesnít have a competency rating after it either. Sally might be your friend but that doesnít mean that she is the best and most competent person to represent you. This is a business transaction, a big business transaction involving thousands of your dollars. You have to make a strong business decision here. Do your homework. Get referrals from satisfied people. Call agents. Then interview, interview, interview. Remember, itís your money, a lot of your money. Donít waste it. The most competent agents will negotiate the best price for you. Itís their fiduciary responsibility.

How many houses should I look at? Very simply, as many as are necessary and as few as possible. Buying a new house is a huge decision, not to be rushed into. But, your time is very valuable also. If you have done the homework above and you have selected an agent that listens to you, then you can eliminate viewing many homes that do not meet your requirements. This saves you time because you are focusing on the right group of homes from which to choose.

Is Murphy Law applicable to this process? Yes. Mr. Murphy has been hanging around for centuries messing things up for people. Youíve heard it many times before: if it can go wrong, it will! Please listen carefully to this. If you find the home you like, if it has the positives you are looking for and, if it doesnít have major negatives, make an offer immediately. If you donít, Mr. Murphy will make sure someone else buys it while youíre thinking about it. Donít ask me why it happens, it just does.

Itís time to start doing your homework.


David McGuire is a Realtor in Dallas, Texas and a contributer to the Flower Mound Homes Weblog.

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