April 25, 2018
by Sean Hess, Owner, Broker, Author
Following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, “How To Buy A House: Pre-Owned and Foreclosures”.
First thing to do when looking for a house? Dream big (online)!
I was at a wedding a few years ago, and someone who never bought before asked me, “What do I need to do to buy a new house?”
Realtors really get hung up on that question. Do you get a Realtor first? Do you get a lender first? We get stuck on the chicken-or-the-egg question and go into WAY too much detail.
But on this occasion I just blurted out, “Dream!” I think that’s the best answer I’ve ever given.
Yep, the best thing you can do when starting out is to dream. Go ahead—get online and just start looking at houses (I’ll give you some pointers on where to look online in the next section).
This is the time to live large. Find your dream mansion and see what it actually costs. Look at homes in your dream neighborhood or your dream school district and see what it would actually cost to live there.
Do you ever watch those HGTV shows with crazy buyers on tight budgets with big dreams who want “the ocean view and a big house in a nice neighborhood”? Be one of them—online.
What you’ll be doing is educating yourself about the market. Look in some neighborhoods that you think are off-limits because of price. You might be surprised. And if you can’t afford them, it’s still fun to window-shop, and you won’t be tempted to look at things in person that you can’t afford.
What not to do during this stage: While you might drive around and window-shop for real, do not call on for-sale signs that you see, and do not go into open houses (new construction or otherwise). And you will be oh, so tempted.
There will be time for open houses later, after you get your ducks in a row with a loan officer and a Realtor. If you go out now, you might buy the first place you see, and then negotiate a bad price with a big monthly payment—all because you couldn’t wait a few days.
Besides, having a Realtor is like having your own personal open house to every home available on the market. Looking at homes can be fun, so don’t cheat yourself out of the experience.
One house and one neighborhood is just not enough to see.
So get on the Web and keep your car keys on the table (for now).