When you’re ready to start your home search online, don’t let the sheer volume of listings overwhelm you. Below are some tips to help you narrow down your search results on remax.com and make it much easier to streamline the list of homes you want to visit.
1. Be smart about pricing.
By now you’ve probably already contacted a lender to figure out exactly how much you’re preapproved to borrow for your new place – and then from there determined how much you’re actually willing to spend on a home. (What you can borrow oftentimes is higher than what you might be comfortable spending.) When you begin your search online, the absolute high-end of your budget isn’t the figure you should enter into your search criteria.
In today’s competitive market, many buyers find themselves in the middle of a bidding war to secure their dream home. Houses can sell for several thousand dollars more than the original asking price. It might be a good idea to go into your online search knowing you could end up paying more for a home than it’s listed for online. With this in mind, set the price search filter lower than your true maximum price. This way you have some flexibility to compete and increase your offer if other buyers submit offers on your top pick. Another way remax.com helps in your search is to automatically show the newest listings at the top of your results, giving you the opportunity to get your bid in as soon as possible.
2. Consult the map.
You’re looking at pictures of the perfect house. There’s a fenced-in yard for your dog. The garage has plenty of space to store your camping gear. Your kids will love the Jack-and-Jill style bathroom. But just as you’re about to contact the agent, you notice a deal-breaker – your commute to your new job would take twice as long as you wanted.
Avoid the heartbreak of discovering the perfect home is in a less-than-perfect location by using the remax.com mapping functions. After you filter properties based on pricing, number of bedrooms, and other criteria you set, this function shows homes as pins on a map. You can zoom in to focus on homes within walking distance to your kids’ new school, for instance, and you’ll also get an idea of what restaurants and other amenities are nearby. Plus, you can create a My RE/MAX account to access additional features like INRIX Drive Time, which shows commute times to and from a property at various times throughout the day.
3. Remember, photos and videos are only 2D.
Although it’s true that agents can do a great job of capturing a home’s character in photos and videos, there’s still only so much these images can convey. Maybe the neighborhood is described as “secluded,” but it’s still close enough to hear the train come through town. Or when you look closer, you’re unsure if the cabinets are maple or oak.
These types of uncertainties are why it’s important to see a home in person before you make a decision to buy. Your real estate agent will happily schedule showings for you. But if choosing an agent isn’t something you’re ready to do right now, there is a way to see properties and start narrowing down your wants, needs and options: open houses. On remax.com, you can filter search results to see homes with an upcoming open house. The feature also posts the dates and times you can stop by to see the properties in person.
To get an even better feel for the area, you also can view demographic data and browse a neighborhood overview.
4. Search your top neighborhood choices.
Make a trip across almost any city and you’ll encounter several different pockets of culture and attitude. One part of town might pride itself on being the historic city center while another is all about modernism. Perhaps the reason you’re in the market for a new home is that you want to shift to the lifestyle a specific neighborhood offers. To search for a specific area on remax.com, type the name of the area you want to live in, followed by “Neighborhood” and the state you’re looking in. If the neighborhood you’re looking for is listed (many, but not all, neighborhoods will appear), you’ll see search results showing all available properties in that area. Now that’s convenience!
5. Balance character with upkeep.
Another important search feature is the age of the property. Deciding whether or not you’re interested in purchasing an older home is a perfect example of how the wants and needs in a home differ for each buyer. You may have always wanted a home with exposed brick inside, but are you willing to pay to update the older plumbing that might come with it? Whether you’re open to taking on maintenance that may come with an older home or you’d rather avoid projects altogether and stick to brand-new homes, the “Age of Home” filter on remax.com can help you narrow down your search results.
Rolling Stones fans and savvy homebuyers both know you can’t always get what you want. At least not everything you want. You should, however, have some sense of what you want and what you need when you start your search for a new home. Distinguishing between the wants and needs can be tricky because so much emotion can swirl around visions of your “dream home.”
But making two separate lists of wants and needs will save you hours and energy in the long run. Here are three things to do to help you decide how to assign home features to your lists:
1. Ask yourself if you can truly live without it.
“Wants” are features that would be nice to have. “Needs” are things that you really must have to function. Be honest, can you truly live without shiny new stainless steel appliances? If yes, put them in the “Wants” column. On the other hand, an additional bedroom may belong in the “Needs” column if you’re expecting twins. Creaky knees? A ranch layout is a “need.” Occasional desire for a nap by the hearth? That fireplace is a “want.”
2. Determine if a feature could be changed or added later.
No matter how ambitious you are, some things may remain beyond your control to change, like proximity to public transportation, or quality of the local school district. If these features are critical to you, they go on the “Needs” list. On the other hand, things like patios and hardwood floors can be added later. List them as “Wants.” Your agent can probably help you talk through potential future costs of renovations and additions to accommodate your wants. Changing the bus routes, on the other hand, is probably beyond the capabilities of even the most experienced Realtor.
3. Talk it through with your agent.
A trusted Realtor can bring a much-needed dose of objectivity to your decision-making. He or she can help you visualize the day-to-day reality of living with (or without) a certain feature, as well as guide you through the math that may help you separate wants from needs.
A Realtor you can trust always goes on the “Needs” list. Find a local RE/MAX agent who can guide you through the homebuying process.
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