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Some homeowners will tell you that searching for their home was a fun process, and others will describe it more like a nightmare. While some things may be out of your control, if you’re just beginning your housing search, there are many things you can do to make the process more effective and more pleasant. For prospective buyers who put in the work and are methodical with their searching, house-hunting can be a smooth process that helps you find just the right property. Here are several things buyers can do to support a positive experience:
Start with You
So, you know you want to buy a house, and you know you want to buy in St. Louis. Those factors alone are not enough to guide your housing search. While, of course, most buyers have more in mind than this, they often haven’t gotten those thoughts out in a clear and organized manner. Especially if you’re buying with a partner, this is an absolutely essential first step that can really make or break the rest of the process. Take some time with it. Refine your location to a few specific neighborhoods that have what you’re looking for. Determine your non-negotiables, like number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a garage, and yard space. Set your budget. Know what you’d like to spend and what your absolute top price is if you find a home you truly love. Before you start looking at the many great options all around St. Louis, get clear with yourself first.
Build a Connection with Your Agent
Don’t just work with an agent, develop a relationship with them. Be upfront and honest with them. Once you’ve taken the time to really nail down what you want, share all the details with your agent. Get comfortable asking them questions and reaching out when you need assistance. The more information you can give them, the better they can help you. It’s also important to trust your agent, and building a rapport really helps with that. Your agent might call you to look at a home you wouldn’t otherwise check out, and if you’re confident in your connection, you’ll know it could be worth the trip.
The internet has given us countless resources to explore the real estate market in our area — use them! Start to get familiar with what’s out there, what price range the houses you like are in, which neighborhoods fit your budget, and what you can expect from the market overall. This familiarity will give you a strong foundation from which to refine your search. Your online research will probably help you make a long list. This doesn’t mean you’ll check out every one on this list in person. Instead, it will help you match your expectations with what’s really out there, learn where you may need to compromise, and help you prioritize your most important factors.
Look Beyond Listing Photos
It’s natural that pictures draw us in. You’re looking online, you set the budget and the location to meet your parameters, and then you see which pictures catch your attention. While photos can be helpful, they shouldn’t be your only guide. Sometimes a listing with beautiful photos can have damage and repairs that you’re not seeing. Sometimes a house that doesn’t look great in photos could have a much different feeling in person. This doesn’t mean to ignore your instincts and preferences. Just keep in mind that pictures aren’t everything. Don’t get your hopes up on great photos, and don’t dismiss a property that meets all your needs just because you’re not in love with the photos.
Attend Open Houses
As we mentioned above, your online search will probably help you arrive at a long list of potential homes. From there, you’ll want to develop a short list of properties you’ll go see in person. Especially if your time is limited, this is an important step to make the process more efficient. If you’ve found a great home but it isn’t in an area you want to be in, that might be one you cross off. The way you trim this list will be different for everyone, but you’ll want to get strategic and ensure you get to your top properties first. Once there, you can better evaluate the home.
With a bit of preparation and organization, house hunting in St. Louis can be a streamline process that helps you arrive at your dream home. When you incorporate these tips into your search, you’ll be able to avoid some of the most common house-hunting mistakes that can sabotage a search. Are there any other tips you’d recommend to prospective buyers. Share them with us!