When it is time to start your house hunting journey, it is easy to get distracted by the many beautiful properties on the market. Unfortunately, this just ends up eating away at your time.
To streamline your buying journey and help you increase your chances of finding your dream home, I have compiled this easy-to-use house hunting checklist. Read through it and start taking notes so you can get the conversation started with your Realtor. By taking time at the start of your journey to consider the details, you can better focus on what matters to you and increase the likelihood of finding the right home for you and your family.
Connect with a Qualified Realtor
There is no wrong time in the process to build a relationship with a qualified Realtor! For many buyers, connecting with a Realtor is the first step in their home buying process. Having a good relationship with your real estate professional helps provide you with valuable insight into the home buying process and the current real estate market. Even if you bought a house two years ago, today’s market has evolved since, and you will want a professional that can help guide you accordingly.
Understand Your Needs
When speaking to your Realtor, you will want to provide her with information about your needs and wants so that she can set up viewings for you at properties that are as close as possible to your dream home. Make sure to think about the following factors and which are the most important to you. Know which are negotiable and which are non-negotiable, and communicate that to your Realtor.
Are you looking for additional square footage so you can maintain a home office? Do you need to downsize now that your youngest has moved out? Think about how many rooms and bathrooms you want in your house and consider your minimum square footage.
Dreaming of a large backyard that is perfect for entertaining? Do you want a pool or easy access to local waterways? Are you looking forward to being a part of a community, or do you prefer to have few neighbors? All of these are important considerations when thinking about the property on which your future home will rest. For example, if you do not want to see your neighbors while you are lounging poolside, you may need high fencing or a larger backyard.
You know what they always say about real estate: location, location, location. In this case, though, we are talking about the location that will allow you to feel the most at home. Are there particular communities that you are interested in? For example, are you targeting a specific school or a neighborhood? Do you want to be close to work or recreation? Do you love being close to the city center, or do you want to feel like your home is a retreat, further from the hustle and bustle of Tampa and closer to your favorite golf course, beach, or other recreational activity.
Turnkey vs. Fixer Upper
How do you feel about a home that may need some work to get it to dream home status? Are you ok with hiring roofing contractors after you have purchased a home, or do you want everything already taken care of before the ink dries on the contract? Are you able to live with the potential of a home as you remodel to make it into exactly what you want?
Knowing your comfort level is important for being happy with your new purchase! If you know that you want a turn-key home, let your Realtor know and be specific about your needs. If you are okay with minor remodeling, share that information so that your Realtor can widen her search and find you the homes that check off as many of your boxes as possible.
Do you have any deadlines for moving? Are you starting a new job and need to be in your new place by a certain time? Do you want to close quickly, or are you ok with a longer closing period? Make sure you have a firm understanding of your timeline and get your house hunting started early to make sure you can easily make the transition into your new place.
Because it is a seller’s market, you may find that some sellers are only selling their homes if certain conditions are met. For example, because homes are selling more for their asking prices, in some places, the selling price exceeds what homes are appraised for. Are you willing to pay in cash above the appraised value to secure a property? And if yes, how much more? Similarly, are you willing to put down more in our earnest money deposit?
To learn more about the most common contingencies, have a talk with your Realtor about what you can expect in the current market. Your Realtor is your own personal real estate expert! Take advantage of her depth of knowledge and learn more about what is going on with homes in your particular price range or your dream location.
Know Your Comfort Level
Right now, we are in a seller’s market. To put together a competitive offer that a seller will be excited to accept, you may need to increase your offer price, waive inspections, accept certain contingencies, and take on the cost of repairs or remodeling. Check in with yourself and your spouse to decide what is reasonable and what you are willing to do.
Save time and get pre-approved for a mortgage from your preferred lender, so you can quickly generate offers. Right now, homes are selling fast. By getting pre-approved, you can save time and better understand how much you can comfortably afford to spend on your home.
Working through these items and thoughtfully considering each one will help you have a smoother home buying experience. And with the help of a Realtor, you can further reduce your stress level since you will have an expert advising you and keeping your best interest in mind.
Ready to get started? Let’s set up a time to talk about what you are looking for in your next Tampa home.