It’s that time of year when the housing market experiences a burst of activity. If you’ve been keeping a close eye on Realtor.com, you’ll probably notice a plethora of new houses popping up now that the snow has melted. House hunting is extremely overwhelming. Some people know exactly what they’re looking for, and some people have no idea. Either of these scenarios can create a lot of stress. It’s easy to get sucked into the internet and spend hours searching and clicking for the perfect house.
We turned to Forbes.com for the most essential house hunting tips to prepare yourself for the season.
1. Turn off the computer and get outside. The only way to get a real look at a house is by visiting it curbside, at the very least. If you’re able, go to every open house you can. It’s so easy with a trick of photography to create length and space where it does not exist. You only see what they want you to see. If you visit the house, you can tell a lot about how the house is kept–is there curb appeal? Do the owners appear to take care of the property? Are there playscapes in the yard? Do the neighbors take care of their property? You’ll know immediately if you want to pursue the house further.
2. Don’t snooze. As the saying goes, if you snooze, you loose. According to experts, this is an extremely competitive season for home buying and in warmer weather states, the competition is already in full swing.
3. Educate yourself on market values. Know the area. In some areas, market values have increased by 11% and in some, only 2%. Visit zillow.com and know what else is on sale in the area and what recent sales are.
4. Understand mortgage rates. Rates are still historically low and are predicted to remain that way through spring. This is yet another reason not to dawdle. Securing a low mortgage rate could mean a lower monthly payment that some rents in the same area. It can also mean life changing money from month to month. Mortgage rates are unpredictable and the market is climbing back out of the recession. Lock your rate now. Some people are getting ahead of the game by going through the full approval process before even bidding on a home in order to speed up the process.
5. Be prepared to sweeten your deal if the occasion arises. Some people add an escalation clause, which would increase the bid by a certain amount of money over another bidder. Being flexible on closing dates is also a dangling carrot for a homeowner. And if you’re able, be willing to pay part of the owner’s closing cost in order to get the deal done.