13 Do’s and Dont’s of Becoming a Home Buying Search Expert

13 do's and don'ts for becoming a home search expertI am going to wrap up the article with the 13 do’s and dont’s of a home search.  But first I am going to give some context by going thru the typical home buying search cycle.

Hopefully by understanding the search cycle it can maximize your search efforts in finding just the right home. And prevent you from wasting valuable time.

Right now we are in a strong to very strong sellers market.  It is possible to see a $350,000 house appreciate $2-3000 or even more for every month that goes by in many areas in my market.

The Home Buying Search Cycle

The Thought To Buy- Stage 1

In Stage 1 you are not usually prepared to buy.  Your just testing the waters.

The thought of buying your first home or maybe even to sell and downsize or move to a bigger home enters your head.   Usually you will have an idea of a town or a group of towns you are interested in as your new residence.

You search for example;  Andover MA Homes for Sale….  Now usually what shows up at the top of the searches are Zillow, Trulia and other large national real estate aggregates.  You will get a rough idea of what is in your price range.

Realize the national aggregates are not your friend.   They are going to lead you to believe certain houses are on the market when they are not.  Their goal is to sell your lead to a real estate agent.

You are far better off finding a local real estate agent and use their home search tool that pulls directly from your local MLS.  Most agents search tools will update in a matter of minutes to a couple of hours. Iit is not unusual for Trulia to take up to 3 days to update!

You sift thru what you think is available inventory and start getting an idea of homes you like in your projected price range.  This is the stage where you are formulating the idea.

Time to Get Serious- Stage 2

Stage 2 your getting serious but you probably have valuable lessons to learn.

You have mulled it over and now it is time to get serious.  You have talked to your mortgage broker and have a home loan pre-approval in hand.   Now you find a few houses you want to see and you call the listing agents for appointments.

You go and view some homes.   At this point you need to realize that the listing agent has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller.  Their sole job is to sell you the home you called on.

But now may be the time to enroll the services of your own buyer’s agent.  A buyer’s agents job is to assist you in buying a home.  Guess what, it doesn’t cost you anything to have an agent represent you.

A buyer’s agent can also help you identify homes that meet your criteria as well as give you valuable insights into culling thru the available homes for sale.

Up to this point, you have been looking mostly at old inventory that has sat on the market unsold.  Not that you might not find your new home in this group, but it is mostly made up of homes all the buyers before you did not want.  And, most likely you will not want them either.   Most homes in this category are overpriced compared to the homes that are selling quickly.

In this stage you are getting a sense of the market to prepare you for Stage 3

Tip- Every website is pulling data from the same MLS source.  Find a home search site you like and learn how to use it.  Don’t bounce.

Ok Now it is time to Really Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Serious- Stage 3

Stage 3 you have learned some hard lessons and you are ready!!

Once you have exhausted the old inventory.  You are like the buyers before you, now waiting for the next new home to come on the market.

It is critical you receive email alerts for your target criteria.  These alerts will identify homes that are new to the market, came back on the market or had a price change that now fits your criteria.

In most cases, but not always, this is where you are going to find your next home, in your daily email alert.  In general good homes go quick and most buyers want the same thing.

The quicker you move through the cycles the better.  Don’t get stuck in stage two for months like some buyers who decide to go it alone.

13 do's and don'ts for becoming a home search expert

13  Do’s and Dont’s of a Home Search

  • Do use a local real estate agents search– They will generally be more accurate than large national aggregates, as they pull directly from your local MLS.
  • Do sign up for email alerts from your local real estate agent– Your email alerts will have the hottest listings.
  • Do review your daily email list of homes for sale– Good listings sell fast and your email alerts will have the latest listings to hit the market.
  • Do realize that Zillow and Trulia will mislead you into thinking homes are available that are not– Don’t waste your time on homes that aren’t available.
  • Do enlist the services of a buyer’s agent to help you find a home– A buyers agent will help you make the most of your home search.
  • Do understand there is a correlation between days on market and the desirability of a home– Most buyers want the same thing.  Good listings sell within weeks if not days of hitting the market.
  • Do learn to read between the lines of an online listing–  If it is too good to be true it is.  House looks great but did you realize half of the square footage is in a damp basement?
  • Don’t fall in love with a home online–  Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket (home).  Go see it before you fall in love with it.
  • Don’t be deceived by the photos of a home– Photos online can make a home look far more spacious than it is. An actual showing will give you a far more accurate assessment of a home.
  • Don’t be too restrictive on your criteria–  Your advanced searches are going to return you exactly what you tell it too.  Keep your searches broad and eliminate manually.
  • Don’t skip the details–  I can’t tell you how many times a buyer calls me up excited but they didn’t read all the details of a home, only to get to the home to be disappointed because they didn’t pay attention to all the details.
  • Don’t call and schedule each home with the listing agent–  Use a buyers agent, let them do the leg work and schedule appointments. They can be a very reliable resource once they get a handle on what you want.
  • Don’t  chase what doesn’t exist–  Often a buyer will chase homes that don’t exist.   A quick search of what has sold in the past year will give you an idea of your potential success in finding a home.

Having a little insight into the typical cycle a home buyer goes thru when searching for homes as well as the 13 do’s and dont’s of effectively searching for a home, will hopefully save you some time and aggravation.  In a hot sellers market a lost month can cost you thousands!!

Other Resources:

13 Do’s and Dont’s of Becoming a Home Buying Search Expert is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate of Tewksbury MA. If you would like to sell your home give me a call at 978-360-0422 and let’s get the process started.

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