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How to look for a House?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Here is what is going on with me. I live at home and am saving up for at the most a 15% downpayment on a house. I did the calculations and I should have enough for down payment, closing costs, and all those little fees. I have also saved up for furniture and I am building my account back up so once all that money is gone, I still have a safety net.

I have a financial advisor who will be giving me a loan and he knows exactly what I can afford and I will buy much lower than I know I can afford. I've had 3 people I know all offer me recommendations on three different realtors.

Here is my question....What is the best way to look for a house? I will be typing up the requirements it must have, what I would like, and what exceptions I will make. That way the realtor knows exactly what I am looking for and I won't be wasting anyone's time.

Do I just start looking at houses on my own (which I already am by looking at local ads, etc) and if I find one I like go with that realtor? Do I go with one of the realtors that was recommended and give them a certain amount of time to find me a house? I don't know how to pick the best realtor for my house hunting because I know what I want, I just don't know who may have the best selections of what I want. Does that make sense?

So basically, right now, I'm trying to learn what the best method is of looking for a house once I get the loan written out. Anyone that can offer any advice would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 23
Get yourself a realtor. The have access to some houses prior to them actually "going on the market" We bought ours 2 days after the house went up for sale - the for sale sign never even got placed on the lawn. The realtors always see it prior to it going "public".

Good luck!
post #3 of 23
I agree, get a realtor, but don't stop looking on your own. Sounds like you already have an idea of what you want, so go to as many open houses as you can. And, realtors actually do talk to each other. When we were selling my mom's house, we had realtors and clients from different agencies touring the house. I guess the realtor you sign with figures commission from the sale (and not the purchase) is better than no commission at all.

Good luck!!
post #4 of 23
Never go with the realtor selling the house you are looking at, they have the best interests of the seller in mind. If you see a listing you like, tell your realtor that you want to see it. It is better to go with your realtor who can tell you if they agree with the pricing etc.
post #5 of 23
We've been through the house-buying process 4 times and this is my advice.

Look at homes yourself certainly, but have a realtor. To choose a realtor - choose the one that respects what you are willing to pay, is actually interested in finding the features you want and not trying to get you to buy something else.

We had one lady that was highly recommended to us by a friend. She tried to talk us into buying something that I did not think we could afford (I had done my homework and worked out what we could afford to pay monthly on mortgage, utilities, etc. and still have some money left over at the end of the month so we wouldn't be mortgage-poor). I think she went out of her way to find the 3 most dirty, gross houses in the price range I had suggested to indicate to us that we were going to have to pay more if we wanted more. At that point I told her if that was all that was available in that price range then we were not interested in buying so we wouldn't waste anymore of her time. We were recommended to another agent by another friend and 24 hours after we told him what we wanted he had 3 homes to show us in our price range that were beautiful. We bought the third one he showed us. In her greed for a larger commission she lost the whole commission.

What I'm basically saying is to make sure the agent is working FOR you and that's exactly what an agent should be doing. If you are not comfortable with an agent, look for another.

The other thing I highly recommend is have a qualified inspector do a thorough inspection of the house you are interested in before buying. In the offer make sure that the offer is subject to inspection. You can avoid a lot of repair bills later on by checking it out up front. It may cost a couple hundred dollars to get the inspection done but you could be saving thousands.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Here is my question. All houses are listed with certain realtor companies. What if I find a house that I like that is not with the realtor company I am in a contract with? How does that work? So the main advice everyone is giving me is to find a realtor I like and that will listen to what I am looking for and the price range.
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchess15 View Post
Here is my question. All houses are listed with certain realtor companies. What if I find a house that I like that is not with the realtor company I am in a contract with? How does that work? So the main advice everyone is giving me is to find a realtor I like and that will listen to what I am looking for and the price range.
Most areas have what they call a "multiple listing service" which is a database of available properties which all realtors can access. If you see a property you like listed with someone else, tell your realtor about it and s/he will look into it for you.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zane's Pal View Post
Most areas have what they call a "multiple listing service" which is a database of available properties which all realtors can access. If you see a property you like listed with someone else, tell your realtor about it and s/he will look into it for you.
Thanks! I have been looking on realtor.com for over a year now.
post #9 of 23
Each realtor has access to the MLS and can see houses from all companies. Your realtor works for you - if you like a house listed with X company, he still gets his commission regardless.

When we were looking at houses a while back we ran into the problem that the house we liked was listed by our realtor and he couldn't act on behalf of both parties. By the time we found another realtor, the people had decided not to sell.
post #10 of 23
I just bought my 4th house last year. I had been looking online on and off for a few years before that. When I got really serious, I spent hours looking online trying to weed out the homes that I had no interest in. When I finally wanted to look at homes, I contacted a realtor.

I found this house on Craigslist. For yucks and grins I did a google search on lake homes for sale. I then pulled up the MLS listing for it, then did a mapquest and drove past it before I called the realtor.

Frankly, I don't trust realtors. They either try to push listings from their companies (therefore they make the entire commission), or are too busy to really serve your needs. It's not to say that you shouldn't get a realtor, but watch out for yourself first and foremost.
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
I just bought my 4th house last year. I had been looking online on and off for a few years before that. When I got really serious, I spent hours looking online trying to weed out the homes that I had no interest in. When I finally wanted to look at homes, I contacted a realtor.

I found this house on Craigslist. For yucks and grins I did a google search on lake homes for sale. I then pulled up the MLS listing for it, then did a mapquest and drove past it before I called the realtor.

Frankly, I don't trust realtors. They either try to push listings from their companies (therefore they make the entire commission), or are too busy to really serve your needs. It's not to say that you shouldn't get a realtor, but watch out for yourself first and foremost.
I am very stubborn when it comes to something I have to pay for and it's not cheap to begin with. I know exactly what I want and where I want it. I just have to have someone help me find that one house I'm looking for. I can be flexible on some things, but not on others. I know what price range I need to be able to pay and will always look for lower.
Realtors will have a difficult time talking me into something other than what I am looking for or higher price range. I will also be getting an inspector to look at a house once I find one that I really am settled on.

How long is a loan good for when looking for a house?
post #12 of 23
Up here we have one of the better real estate companies - Edina. We first went to the bank to get a pre-approved loan to find out our range of what we can afford.

I STRONGLY urge you to stay at the lower end to mid-range of your price range - you don't want to go to the max and strap yourselves in over your heads. Another thing is do not get the adjustable mortgage rates - they sucker you in low and hit you high later!

We had a certain requirement (# of bedrooms, minimum square footage, and certain sizes minimum for kitchen and some of the other rooms) On Edina's website, we could fill those things in and pick out a section/area to check for that in the price range. We looked at probably 50-75 houses in various areas without even leaving our house Don't look at houses that don't show inside pictures

We would narrow it down to a few in a group; the A's got a must see, the B's were backup if the A house was not available, and the C's were ones that probably would be dropped anyway After picking out an area, we then contacted the listing agent to book an appointment to see 1-4 houses at a time.

IMO the websites are just as good as paying a real estate agent money to search the internet. They are not gonna find much more then you can do yourselves.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
I STRONGLY urge you to stay at the lower end to mid-range of your price range - you don't want to go to the max and strap yourselves in over your heads. Another thing is do not get the adjustable mortgage rates - they sucker you in low and hit you high later!
Don't worry! I have heard so many bad things I would never get an adjustable rate anyway! It will be a fixed 30 year loan. That is why so many people are losing their homes. The rates are shooting up so much, they can no longer cover the mortgage costs.
Also, my advisor is pushing for very low end of my range that I know I would be able to pay easily. He knows that I am a first time buyer and will eventually move into a better house once I make more and build up some equity first.
post #14 of 23
Get a fixed rate mortgage, Always offer them lower than the price they're asking (then work your way up - if you see something that needs repairs- say "well this needs work/etc i'll give you ....for the house" - in the market we're in now- make sure you make the seller's pay for the closing costs. (also -do your research sometimes the first time home owner loans aren't as great as most people think.) if you have any affiliation with the military - you might want to look into using USAA for your loans/etc -they offer good rates.

My sister and brother in law are currently looking into buying a new home and they've found www.remax.com to be a lot of help! Definitely look at the year the home was built and keep in mind- a lot of appliances need to be replaced every 10-15 yrs- make sure they are new or in good shape- make sure the roof is in good shape- try and get a brick house over wood- as the wood can rot and be expensive to replace. Also- you may be able to get a good deal on a forclosure home!)

And the best piece of advice ever -GET A GOOD TERMITE CONTRACT!!!!!
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarryEyedTiGeR View Post
Get a fixed rate mortgage, Always offer them lower than the price they're asking (then work your way up - if you see something that needs repairs- say "well this needs work/etc i'll give you ....for the house" - in the market we're in now- make sure you make the seller's pay for the closing costs. (also -do your research sometimes the first time home owner loans aren't as great as most people think.) if you have any affiliation with the military - you might want to look into using USAA for your loans/etc -they offer good rates.

My sister and brother in law are currently looking into buying a new home and they've found www.remax.com to be a lot of help! Definitely look at the year the home was built and keep in mind- a lot of appliances need to be replaced every 10-15 yrs- make sure they are new or in good shape- make sure the roof is in good shape- try and get a brick house over wood- as the wood can rot and be expensive to replace. Also- you may be able to get a good deal on a forclosure home!)

And the best piece of advice ever -GET A GOOD TERMITE CONTRACT!!!!!

I am looking at no older than 30 years and would prefer one that has been already remodeled with minor work. I don't like wood, so I'm looking at mostly brick. There are very few houses here that are completely brick all around. I can always add modern siding to the wood.
We haven't had too many problems with Termites if any. We have more problems with fire ants down here.
My advisor told me that we could work it out to where I probably wouldn't have to pay any closing costs so we shall see. I may go to another loan office just to see how much they try to get me approved for. I trust my advisor since he tells me the same thing a friend of mine does so I know that he is pushing me in the right direction.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchess15 View Post
I am looking at no older than 30 years and would prefer one that has been already remodeled with minor work. I don't like wood, so I'm looking at mostly brick. There are very few houses here that are completely brick all around. I can always add modern siding to the wood.
We haven't had too many problems with Termites if any. We have more problems with fire ants down here.
My advisor told me that we could work it out to where I probably wouldn't have to pay any closing costs so we shall see. I may go to another loan office just to see how much they try to get me approved for. I trust my advisor since he tells me the same thing a friend of mine does so I know that he is pushing me in the right direction.
You can get a "pest contract" if you ask in most cases- that would take care of the fire ant thing. But even if termites aren't a problem for you now- make sure you have one heck of a termite contract because down the road you just never know. We didn't have an issue with them at all- until last year when it seemed like overnight they invaded our house! It was horrible (ours is a brick house) - after that we took out a termite contract - they can do TONS of damage in a really short span of time- that contract is a lifesaver!

As far as the ants go- my sister's recently had tons of problems with ants at their rental house -the pest guy said that if you can see the mount visibly above ground - the colony goes all the way down and it can be very hard to kill and can take a few treatments- make sure you get an overall "pest contract" so that you have all your bases covered with the minor things should issues arise!:bightumb:
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchess15 View Post

How long is a loan good for when looking for a house?

There shouldn't be a problem w/ a loan "running" out.... What you do have to pay attention to is the interest rate and when to lock in. The Interest Rate you lock in at will expire after so long.

What type of load are you applying for??? Conventional or FHA?

We lucked out b/c one of our mangers owned his on Real Estate company as well. He ended up giving us his username/password for the MLS for realtors. It's amazing what they see.

Whatever realtor you go w/... make sure they do their job. If your a 1st time home buyer, there are many programs out there for you.
post #18 of 23
Another thought - do they post realtor listing books at restaurants and other spots in your area? Kansas City is loaded with them and they are great when you are trying to find general areas to live in - you get a feel of what general prices are in different areas of town.
post #19 of 23
Make sure you get a home inspection before buying a home.
Our one and only home bought in 1985 was for sale my owner. We had a fairly specific area we were looking for a home and saw alot of bad houses or ones outside of the area we wanted to live. Location can be important-you should consider job commute times esp with the price of gas.
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by koodeez View Post
There shouldn't be a problem w/ a loan "running" out.... What you do have to pay attention to is the interest rate and when to lock in. The Interest Rate you lock in at will expire after so long.

What type of load are you applying for??? Conventional or FHA?

We lucked out b/c one of our mangers owned his on Real Estate company as well. He ended up giving us his username/password for the MLS for realtors. It's amazing what they see.

Whatever realtor you go w/... make sure they do their job. If your a 1st time home buyer, there are many programs out there for you.
I'm not sure yet what type of loan. I'm still trying to research it and find out how many different kinds of loans there are. It will be a fixed rate, no matter what.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
Another thought - do they post realtor listing books at restaurants and other spots in your area? Kansas City is loaded with them and they are great when you are trying to find general areas to live in - you get a feel of what general prices are in different areas of town.
I've already been doing that. Grabbing them as I can find them.
post #21 of 23
A realtor can do a lot of good for a first time homebuyer!
They will know of any special grants that you may be eligible for..like in my area there is a 5,000.00 grant just for first time homebuyers, all you have to do is attend an 6 hour class.
There are also different types of loans, and a realtor would be able to help you with every step. Before choosing just any realtor, do some research, ask friends, search the internet. Usually realtors have a specialty-some work with mostly luxury housing, others first time home buyers, others commercial properties, etc.
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchess15 View Post
I did the calculations and I should have enough for down payment, closing costs, and all those little fees. I have also saved up for furniture and I am building my account back up so once all that money is gone, I still have a safety net.................
I have a financial advisor who will be giving me a loan and he knows exactly what I can afford and I will buy much lower than I know I can afford.
That's a great way to start off! Figure out your own finances beforehand and stick with it when it comes to purchasing a house. When you start going to see houses you can easily want to push up your affordability rate because of a nice kitchen or great backyard. But if you can't afford it later, it's going to be more heartache and stress.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
I think she went out of her way to find the 3 most dirty, gross houses in the price range I had suggested to indicate to us that we were going to have to pay more if we wanted more...... In her greed for a larger commission she lost the whole commission.
Linda, the same thing happened to me! We also dropped that real estate agent and went to a new one. I actually think it's common practice if you don't fall within the agent's commission range and they don't want to waste their time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite
The other thing I highly recommend is have a qualified inspector do a thorough inspection of the house you are interested in before buying. In the offer make sure that the offer is subject to inspection. You can avoid a lot of repair bills later on by checking it out up front. It may cost a couple hundred dollars to get the inspection done but you could be saving thousands.
I totally agree that this is so important and should never be left out on either a new home or older home purchase. I just watched a news program specifically on real estate purchases that went bad. One person had a huge problem with mold behind the walls and another had flood problems. Get the inspection, but make sure the person inspecting the home knows what they are doing!



Quote:
Originally Posted by GailC View Post
Location can be important-you should consider job commute times esp with the price of gas.
Another piece of great advice. The home of your dreams won't be wonderful it if takes you too long for the commute to work and the added wear and tear on your car, which adds to expenses.

Another thing I always mention to future home buyers is to look at the city plan for the neighbourhood you plan to buy in. The city/town could have a new development /garbage dump/nuclear plant that might be located in near future around your home. Therefore, prices could seriously be affected and there goes your investment.

When we wanted to buy our current home, we drove to areas in our job 'commuting' range and selected three areas we wanted to live in or near. Then, we contacted an agent that had a good history of selling properties in those areas.

I always buy a house with the intention of selling it. Can you sell your home if something happened (job loss, illness, job transfer) and you needed to sell quickly? Most people buy thinking they will be there a while but if something were to happen could you sell it?

I believe location to be the greatest determining factor and will always buy with that in mind. Being close to all amenities - public transportation, churches, schools, retail areas area - also are important factors depending on the community involved.

Good luck in your search!
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Russian Blue View Post

Another piece of great advice. The home of your dreams won't be wonderful it if takes you too long for the commute to work and the added wear and tear on your car, which adds to expenses.

I believe location to be the greatest determining factor and will always buy with that in mind. Being close to all amenities - public transportation, churches, schools, retail areas area - also are important factors depending on the community involved.

Good luck in your search!
Don't worry. I am looking at moving closer to where I work to cut down on gas costs! I know...location, location, location. If I can find one that I really like and it's where I want, and it has all I want, I may just stay in that one.
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