Harbaugh Real Estate

8 Tips To Home Search The Smart Way

By Meghan Thrasher

Home searching can be fun and successful when you follow these 8 tips.

a small toy red house in a magnifying glass

1. Start saving early

Here are the main costs to consider when saving for a home:

2. Decide how much home you can afford

Use the mortgage calculator on my "Finance" page to figure out what you can afford based on your income, debt, and potential downpayment cost. Once you have a total figure in mind, it is time to start shopping in your price range!

3. Check and strengthen your credit

Your credit score will be a defining factor for the interest rate your lender offers as well as your ability to even qualify for a home loan or not.

4. Explore mortgage options

A variety of mortgages are available with varying down payments and eligibility requirements.

5. Compare mortgage rates and fees

It is recommended that you apply for the same loan across multiple lenders to compare the total costs, including interest rates and possible origination fees to guarantee you get the best possible deal you qualify for.

6. Get a pre-approval letter

Pre-Approval from a lender is an offer to loan you X amount of money under specific terms. Obtaining this letter shows sellers and other Real Estate Agents that you are a serious buyer and you genuinely have the ability to purchase the home.

7. Pick the right type of house and neighborhood

You will want to weigh the pros and cons of different types of homes, given your lifestyle and budget. A condo or townhome may be more affordable than a single-family home, but shared walls with neighbors will mean less privacy. You will also want to budget for homeowners association fees when shopping for condos and townhomes, or houses in planned or gated communities.

Another option to consider is buying a fixer-upper, which is a single-family home in need of updates or repairs. Fixer-uppers usually sell for less per square foot than move-in-ready homes. However, you may need to budget extra for repairs and remodeling. Renovation mortgages finance both the home price and the cost of improvements in one loan.

Think about your long-term needs and whether a starter home or forever home will meet them best. If you plan to start or expand your family, it may make sense to buy a home with extra room to grow. Check out potential neighborhoods thoroughly. Choose one with amenities that are important to you, and test out the commute to work during rush hour. You can shop for homes using the button at the top of this page.

8. Pay for a home inspection

A home inspection is a thorough assessment of the structure and mechanical systems. Professional inspectors look for potential problems, so you can make an informed decision about buying the property.

Here are some things to keep in mind: