Looking for a new home can become a time consuming and overwhelming experience that'll test your patience. The hours and homes can quickly blur into one hazy memory.
Here's how to optimize your house hunting hours and make the process manageable and memorable.
- Create a wish list: Write down your housing wants and needs. Include all the physical characteristics you want or need, such as style, size, layout and room configuration, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the basic amenities you must have (e.#COMMENT#ENDCOMMENTg.#COMMENT#ENDCOMMENT, central air, fireplace, basement or yard).
Include critical features such as location and services (a home's proximity to good schools or public transportation lines). This list will help you weed out homes that don't match your criteria, and it'll serve as a guideline for your broker (give him or her a copy).
- Use the Web: Most national real estate chains have a Web site that offers tons of information about their listings and the various cities and towns where they are located. You can find Web addresses in a local paper's real estate section or call local agents directly.
Visit the major online listing services such as HomeAdvisor#IF($EnableExternalLinks).c#COMMENT#ENDCOMMENTom#ENDIF and Realtor#IF($EnableExternalLinks).c#COMMENT#ENDCOMMENTom#ENDIF. The International Real Estate Digest#IF($EnableExternalLinks) (ired.c#COMMENT#ENDCOMMENTom)#ENDIF lists thousands of real estate related sites.
- Keep a journal: To avoid attending a second showing at the wrong house and to eliminate unsuitable homes, record your activities. Make notes on the listing sheet and take pictures to populate your journal. Or, consider recording (digitally or on a video tape, but ask permission first) your walk through a house.
If you own a Palm Pilot you may download RAHD's house hunting journal, or use it as a template to learn what to record.
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