(TNS)—Q: I’ve read recently that it’s getting harder to find rentals. I’m thinking about buying a home after our lease expires. I already have seen all the advice online about cleaning up my credit and saving up for a down payment. Do you have any other words of wisdom about finding a home?
A: While I can’t overstate the value of finding a good real estate agent to guide you in this process, there is no substitute for educating yourself. There’s a ton of free information readily available online, but it’s not necessarily all accurate.
Before you start looking for a house, you should make a list of what is most important to you — both now and in five years. Consider how many children you might have while living in the home. Is it possible an aging parent could be moving in with you?
Look at neighborhoods before you identify specific homes. Most people seem to limit themselves to the area in which they currently live. I recently had clients who looked for a home for a year in one area without any luck before deciding to broaden the search. They quickly found the perfect place elsewhere.
When you do tour individual homes, concentrate on the aspects that are difficult to change: walls, bathrooms and bedrooms. Don’t get too caught up on floor coverings, paint colors and decorations.
Finally, drive through the area during the day and night — and during the week and on weekends. What looks like a quiet neighborhood Wednesday afternoon can be an entirely different place Saturday night.
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