What is the best way to find a home?

What is the best way to find a home?
Sammamish Mortgage
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You’ve saved and planned, and you’re finally ready to start house hunting. What is the best way to find a home? Should you use a real estate agent, online listings, or a mix of both to find your dream house?

What Are You Looking For?

Make a list of everything you want in a home, from location to neighborhood to amenities to interiors. Categories them as must-haves, would-likes, and extras. Add in the things you’d hate, and label those deal-breakers. This gives you a starting point.

Who Can Help You Find the Best Home?

Get a real estate agent on your side. As a buyer, you don’t have to pay them – they get paid by the seller! Just don’t use an agent that is already representing a seller. That’s a conflict of interest. A good agent can take your list and match it against the homes they currently know are up for sale.

Where Should You Look For Homes?

A multiple listing service, or MLS, can be any one of a number of generic databases of homes on the market. This can be a good way to browse neighborhoods and look at homes for sale to get an idea of what’s out there and what asking prices are like. Google real estate listings in your area and you will find several listing sites that can help you keep tabs on the market.

The more you look in a specific area the better idea you’ll have of what homes are priced to sell and what homes are listed too high hoping to get lucky. Seeing homes online is really helpful but you should also visit as many open houses in the neighborhoods you want to buy as possible. Get a feel for what streets you like and don’t like. How are the roads, is there traffic noise. There are many things you’ll see when you visit in person that can’t be experienced while searching online.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do get preapproved before you even start looking, so you know what your estimated budget is. Then you can set search parameters a little lower so you have some flexibility if you get in a  bidding war.

Don’t look at homes outside your budget range. It’s too easy to talk yourself into overcommitting because you found the “perfect home.”  You’d feel awful later if you had to give it up because you couldn’t afford it.

Do take someone with you when you go to open houses. A spare set of eyes can keep you from falling in love with obvious pros and missing warning cons.

Don’t shop as a crowd, and don’t bring opinionated people who don’t have a say in what house you buy (pro tip: leave the kids and your inlaws at home.)

Do take your checklist and match every home against it so you can “score” them for suitability. That jacuzzi could be amazing, but will it really make up for siblings having to share a room, or giving up a home office?

Don’t forget to open every single door and window, and to walk through the entire house including any basement or attic spaces. I would leave the basement and attic searches to the inspectors though.

Do take a tape measure, take notes, and take photos. Build a file on every house you walk through.

Don’t ignore noise in the neighborhood, and plan on visiting a second time if someone tries to tell you it’s just a birthday party down the street.

Once you have a short list, making your decision can be tough. You can eliminate contenders by visiting at night, checking in with local schools if you have kids, and talking to neighbors for all the local secrets.

Today’s Mortgage Rates

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Sammamish Mortgage has been in business since 1992, and has assisted many home buyers in the Pacific Northwest. If you are looking for mortgage financing in Washington State, we can help. Sammamish Mortgage offers mortgage programs in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

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