Tips on Buying a House: Market Immersion

We are in the process of buying a home. At this point we had one home under contract, had to terminate the contract due to some issues with the house, and are now about the place another home under contract.

I could not say we are experts, but we’ve been through some advanced home buying negotiations and are still fresh from the process, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on buying a home for the benefit of my friends who have mentioned how intimidating it is to buy a home.

Immersion Into the Market

Our first step was to ask a lot of questions among everyone we knew. We also asked people if they could refer us to people who could guide us in the right direction. I even called someone I didn’t know just to ask about a particular area. By the time we were done we had the low down on just about every town, though some of the reports were conflicting. For example, some people love Pawlet, VT, but other residents of Pawlet thought it was a bad fit for us.

You never know what someone will tell you. One person said a certain area of town has problems with cancer, another mentioned a favorite lawyer, and still others filled us in on problems they had securing a loan since her husband receives the bulk of his income “in kind.”

It’s also essential to view every home on the market. Start at realtor.com, but that may be only half of the homes out there. Check the papers for homes for sale by owner, drive all over the place, and look through the phone book for every small realtor who may not have his homes listed online. Local shopping guides can also be a good source of homes on the market.

The solid gold everyone seeks is a friend who recently purchased a home and knows the market. Nevertheless, once you know the address of a home on the market, call the town hall to find out the sales history. That may tell just as much as a knowledgeable friend.

The goal at this point is immersion into the local market of interest. Look up homes, drive by them, and do some research. It will take time, but this information is invaluable when evaluating a home and working with a realtor.

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