You now know what you can afford, what type of community you want to live in and your credit score is good enough to obtain a decent mortgage but, where do you find your dream home?
There are a ton of available outlets to help you find your home.
1. Realtor Websites
The first place to begin looking for a home is the Internet. Websites upon website offer houses for sale in every community across the globe and any house available for purchase will be there. All sites are not created equal however, and there are certain things you should be wary of when beginning your search especially if you are not familiar with real estate purchases. Many websites that are created specifically for a certain realtor such as Century 21, Prudential Real Estate, Re-Max, Coach, and all the others will list their exclusive listings before general listings. These listings are exclusive to the specific realtor. That means that the realtor will not have to split their commission with another realtor and therefore make more money on the sale of these homes. So obviously, they want to sell them first. Many listing agreements have an exclusivity clause in them whereby the realtor gets to list them exclusively for a short time before they are obligated to get other Realtors and general listings involved. The use of these websites is an invaluable tool but be mindful that what you are seeing are listings new to the market and not yet price reduced.
2. MLS (Multiple Listing Service)
Almost every region has a multiple listing service where a realtor can list a home for other realtors and the general public. In lower NY State, you should use MLSli.com, which stands for Multiple Listing Service Long Island. Although the title seems to limit the service to Long Island, many listings are in New York City and the surrounding areas. MLS services are a great resource as you can see listings from every realtor and from many for sale by owner listings as well. This side by side view of the market in a current area will help you to see where the good deals are and the average value assigned to properties of different types in certain areas. You will also be able to contact realtors directly to schedule viewings and open houses are listed. The MLS website has additional tools on it that can be very helpful such as mortgage calculators, income calculators, and tools to search houses that were recently sold in the area to give you an idea of an acceptable price. Remember asking price for a house is rarely what is paid, everything is negotiable, especially in the current housing market.
3. Open Houses
Set aside a few weekend days and travel to the places you think you want to live. This is supposed to be fun, but remember what you are there for. While it is exciting to look at a potential new home you must do so with a critical eye. Remember the house was prepared for you and in many instances even staged by a professional designer to give off a certain aura. Use a critical eye and think about those possessions you have and don’t want to discard, ask yourself, “Will my couch fit here?”, “Will my TV look right there?”, and “Will our bed fit in this room?”. Remember once you buy it, it is yours and if it is not right you may not be happy.