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Learn To Read Listings For Happy House Hunting

Aug 17, 2007
Sorting through classified ads, online real estate sites and even real estate listings on company web sites can be difficult. It's often hard to tell from an ad if the home you're reading about is the one of your dreams. Unless you intend to visit every possible listing, you have to weed out some possibilities to help guide your hunt for the perfect home. Learning how to read home listings to match your needs can really help.

The key to using listings to your advantage is to have a clearly defined idea of what you're looking for. You need to know what you want in a dream home before you can find one. The same can be said for a starter home or even a mid-stop point along the way to the dream home.

Before you start pouring through the listings in just about any community in the world, you need to do a few things:

1.) The first place to start is to know where you want to live. Be realistic here. If you're budget's a shoestring, don't pick the "best" neighborhood in the city. If you're moving to a location you're unfamiliar with, talk to real estate agents, research neighborhoods, check crime stats, school information and so on for different areas. Once you have a neighborhood or several neighborhoods selected, you can move on.
2.) Now you need to set your budget. What can you afford? Are you pre-qualified for a loan of a set amount? Many banks and mortgage companies offer pre-qualification. This is a great way to ensure you search for only those homes you can afford to buy. This can help ease disappointment and really guide a search, too.
3.) Specifics about a home. How many bedrooms do you need? Bathrooms? Do you require any special features such as a pool, eat-in-kitchen and so on? List these down on a piece of paper. Prioritize features based on must-haves and those you could live without.

Now that you know where you want to live, how much you can spend and the kind of house you'd like to have and the one you'd love to have, those listings will be a whole lot easier to sort through. Read through the listings in the areas you're seeking to buy and jot down the homes that match your qualifications or come close. These are the homes you're likely to want to visit.

Get with your real estate agent or call the lister's agent to get started. Remember when you check out the homes for real to bring your want/need list along with you. Try to find the home that matches your list most closely, but pay close attention as you walk through homes. Look for anything that may be a problem in the future and ask a lot of questions about the home and the neighborhood.

Home listings can be a great resource for finding your ideal home, but in a lot of areas they can be so extensive they overwhelm potential buyers. The best way to make sure you get the home of your dreams, or close to it, is to know what you're looking for.
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