House hunting in Midcoast Maine is one of the most exciting parts of the home buying process. But it’s also where a lot of first-time and repeat buyers make mistakes. Without a solid plan in place, the house hunting process can be a lot of effort with little reward. That’s where this checklist comes in!
Here are ten tips to help you get the most out of your house hunting experience.
1. Create a Realistic Checklist
Get out a sheet of paper, put on your “realism” hat, and start writing down the things you need in a home versus the things you want. You can organize them on the page however you like, as long as you separate the needs and the wants.
When you visit a home, take a copy of the checklist with you and write the home’s address at the top. Then move through the house and check off what it does and does not offer. This will help you remember which house had what, especially when you’re looking at many properties.
2. Be a Proactive Hunter
Your real estate agent will help with the house hunting process. (You are using an agent, right?) But don’t rely solely on your agent. Go out there and do some hunting yourself. Check out the websites listed below for starters, and then start driving through neighborhoods and communities.
3. Get Web Savvy
The Internet can reduce your house hunting time by 50% or more. By previewing homes and researching neighborhoods online, you can weed out the ones you don’t want to visit. This will save you time, energy and gas money! At a minimum, check out home for sale on DwellinginMaine.com and sign up for automatic new listing notifications. If you’re considering foreclosure homes as well as regular listings, check out RealtyTrac.com as well.
4. Play Detective
When visiting a home, don’t be shy about asking plenty of questions. Be friendly about it, but be thorough. Likewise, feel free to do a reasonable amount of “snooping.” Don’t violate the seller’s privacy — just be sure to look in all the dark corners, the basement, tools sheds and the like.
5. Validate the Asking Price
If asking prices were set in stone, they would be called “selling prices” from the start. But that’s not how it works. You should always compare the asking price of a home to recent sales in the area. Your real estate agent should be expert at providing such “comps” to help you validate (or debunk) the seller’s asking price.
6. Visit During Rush Hour
That peaceful property you visited at 10:00 in the morning might be totally different at 5:30 in the evening. By visiting a home during rush hour (It’s Midcoast Maine and we don’t have “rush hour” so we will call this commuting time), you’re evaluating two things at once. First, you’ll find out if traffic patterns make it hard to enter or exit the neighborhood. Secondly, you’ll be able to judge the noise factor at its loudest time of day.
7. Test the Drive
While we’re talking about commuting time, why not test out the morning commute to your work or schools? It might seem silly to do a rush hour commute from a home you’re only considering, but think about how much time you’ll spend driving day after day. It’s a major part of your daily routine, so it deserves some consideration.
8. Look into the Future
Will that beautiful meadow across the street be a shopping center or a highway in two years? You won’t know unless you do the research. Talk to the city, town or county to find out what their plans are for the area around the home. Don’t expect the sellers to volunteer such information, because it’s not in their interest to deliver bad news about the neighborhood. Nor are they required to provide such information. A good buyer-broker real estate agent can assist with this.
9. Plan to take photos
Phone cameras are ideal for house hunting. Which home had the best view? Which one had the wood floors and crown molding? Just look at the photos and you’ll remember.
10. Bring a Devil’s Advocate
When visiting a home that could potentially become your own, it’s easy to be emotional. That’s good and bad. Sometimes, emotion has a way of clouding our better judgment. You can counter this by bringing a friend or family member along on house hunting trips. In addition to keeping you company, a “disinterested witness” can offer an objective point of view. This is crucial when making such a large purchase.
Be prepared, educate yourself and leverage the experience of your buyers broker to make house hunting in Midcoast Maine a smooth process.