Home Buyer's Guide
How to Find a Home to Buy
Finding Homes for Sale
You've likely seen plenty of “For Sale” signs in front yards. But what's the best way to locate available homes that match your goals and finances?
Searching online and exploring the neighborhood you want to live in can be a great start. Your real estate agent will also point out homes that match your goals and can help you keep an eye out for new homes on the market.
When browsing home listings, remember that you're not just buying the building – you're also buying a home that should match your lifestyle. Some aspects to keep in mind, aside from the house itself, include:
- The neighborhood – If you're looking for an area with lively nightlife, you might want to find a home closer to a downtown area. But if you're hoping to get away from the city lights and sounds to a home with a nice yard and a bit more space, a suburb might be better for you.
- The commute – If you're switching locations in a significant way, consider how much time you're comfortable spending on your commute to work.
- The schools – If you have kids or think you might want kids someday, take some time to review the schools in the area. And even if you aren't planning on having children, a good school district can add value to the home and make it easier to sell if you plan to move again.
Building a House vs. Buying a House
Depending on your budget and the houses on the market, you might want to explore the idea of building a new home instead of buying one. Both options come with their advantages, so the choice depends on what's most important to you.
Advantages of Buying a House
- It's usually cheaper.
- It takes less time to buy an existing house than it does to build a new one, and unless major renovations are needed, you won't have a construction timeline that could delay your move-in date.
Advantages of Building a House
- You get to pick exactly what you're looking for, though many builders have stock floorplans and options to help you narrow your choices.
- Everything will be brand-new, so you don't have to worry about inheriting a previous homeowner's problems.
What to Look for at the House Viewing
If you decide to make an offer, a home inspector will complete a more thorough review of the home, but there are some potential red flags you can look for upfront yourself:
- Plumbing and electrical issues – Check all the light switches and electrical outlets. Make sure the faucets and toilets don't leak, and look for evidence of water damage on the floors and ceilings.
- Old appliances, chimneys and gas furnaces – If these items are older or haven't been serviced recently, you may need to have them cleaned, repaired or replaced after buying.
- Radon, lead paint and carbon monoxide – Ask the seller if the house has been tested for any of these. If it hasn't, you can have these tests done as part of the inspection.
- Full or defective gutters – If the home's gutters are full or not working properly, they may be allowing rainwater to pool near the foundation of the home. This can be an expensive problem to fix.
- Tree location and quality – Try to assess the likelihood that a tree might fall on the house during a storm or strong winds.
The Do's and Don'ts of Home Viewings
Get the most out of your home viewing and catch possible red flags before you make an offer.