Buying a home: Step by Step guide
Information about homes in the market
South Western Michigan Regional Information Center maintains a database of all the properties in the market and you can search for homes that fit your criteria. So does GKAR. Or just tell your realtor your preferences and ask him/her to keep looking out for houses that meet your criteria. They have access to a more detailed database (called the Multiple Listing Service or MLS) that allows more powerful searches. The realtor can email the information about houses to you immediately.
Arranging for a private viewing
If the description of any of the houses seems interesting, you will want to learn more about it and actually visit it. This is one of the advantages of having a buyer's agent. Your agent can call the lisitng agent and arrange for a private viewing of the home. Most sellers appreciate a 24 notice because they have to alter any plans and leave the house while you are viewing the home.
At the appointed time, you will arrive at the home with your agent. Your agent has a key to a keybox with the housekeys. When you enter the house, please treat the house as if the owners were present. If they have placed a shoe cover near the front door, wear them before you walk through the house. Copies of disclosure statements and home inspection reports may be available on the dining table or kitchen counter. Take your time and examine every aspect of the house. Pick your agent's mind and discuss the house with the agent. Afterall, agents see hundreds of houses every year.
You might remember everything about the first house you visited but after the fifteenth house, the details tend to become fuzzier. Hence, it is important to take notes as you view the house. Write down the address, the listed price, age of the house, school district, State Equalized Value (a good tool to estmiate a fair price of the house), property taxes, how long has the house been in the market, Square foot area in the upper floor and basement, number of bedrooms and baths and features of the basement. Also write down what you liked about the house and what you didn’t like. This will help you later to compare the houses. (I have a neat booklet that can be used for keeping track of these features . If you like a free copy of the booklet, call me at 269-501-1254).
Keep looking till you find the right house
If you don't find the right house after a few house viewings, don't get discouraged. As your agent gets know your likes and dislikes, he/she will able to narrow the search and minimize disappointing home viewings. You might also change your preferences as you learn more about the market. Feel free to do so. Buying a home is a major investment and you don't want to buy one that you and your family is not excited about.