2007 Oct 6th

How to Search for a New Home Without Losing Your Sanity

You’ve decided to buy a place.

Your financial life is in order. You know what price range works for you. You even have a pre-qual letter or, maybe, are actually preapproved for a mortgage. Now comes the fun part. It’s time to shop for properties! Buying a condo is a numbers game and the more properties you see, the more comfortable you will feel making an offer when you see the right one. Plus, you’ll have a much better basis on which to judge value. Take notes and (ask first) pictures. Start a little notebook to keep track of what you’ve seen. After a while, it will all turn into a big blur. Today there are lots of ways to search for a home. Here are some suggestions:

Search the Internet

The internet is where most buyers begin their home search today. Sites like realtor.com, zillow, trulia, googlebase, yahoo, FSBO.com and craigslist are the most popular. Every real estate agency and realtor in town has a website too. Keep in mind that few of these are updated in real time. So you may see the condo of your dreams on-line only to learn that it is already under contract.

Visit open houses

There are lots of them every weekend. Just check the Hoboken Reporter for listings. Ask lots of questions while you’re there. Talk to other people visiting the open house. They may have seen something that’s not right for them but perfect for you.

Find a really good realtor

I know, realtors have a bad rep. Many times, it is well deserved. I’ve had realtors take me around to places that were exactly what I said I didn’t want. Some of them waste your time, don’t listen, don’t know the market or the neighborhood and don’t understand the process. Others bombard you with irrelevant emails. You should not use these realtors.

There are, however some good realtors out there and it may pay to have one working for you. A good realtor can show you around, educate you on the market, and save you from wasting time. They should be willing to show you other agent’s listings. They have access to the MLS and can share new listings with you. An experienced realtor can help you assess value. They should “pull comps” on similar properties and other units in the building in which you are looking. They should help you negotiate your offer and may be very instrumental in working out problems that arise with the seller.

Talk to friends and neighbors

They may know someone who is about to put their place on the market. You may be able to get in early and grab it at a great price. Anyway, it can’t hurt to get the word out that you are looking.

Eventually, you will find the right place. Next – making an offer.

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