How to Troubleshoot a Home Search

how to troubleshoot a home search

The home-buying process often takes twists and turns. If you find yourself missing out on homes when they hit the market, or you can’t find the exact home you want, it’s time to rethink your criteria. Here’s how to troubleshoot a home search.

Troubleshoot a home search by expanding it

Aren’t finding what you want in your first choice area at an affordable price? If you’ve been looking in a neighborhood for a while without success, it’s unlikely the perfect home will suddenly appear in your price range. And if it does, you’ll likely face stiff competition.

It might be time to explore a different neighborhood. You may find that $300,000 in one area will get you a bigger house or a more recently renovated one. Do the research on nearby areas and see if they will suit your needs.

Consider light cosmetic work

Today’s buyers often don’t want to undertake a kitchen or bath renovation or other updates. As a result, the well-located home that looks like a 1970s throwback won’t get the same attention as the updated one down the block.

But tour the home that needs a little TLC anyway. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint, refinished hardwood floors, new appliances, and painted cabinets can make a world of difference. Take the equity the sellers leave behind and put it in your pocket.

Take a long look at your needs

One of the hardest things for couples to do is compromise on wants and needs when it comes to home requirements. Often, one member of the couple won’t back down on a feature like an extra half bath, additional bedroom or full basement.

Think long and hard about your short-term and long-term needs. Can you come together as a couple to find a meaningful compromise that will suit both of you?

Look for extra cash

No one should get in over their heads, but be open to creative financing or down payment assistance. Sometimes it’s the last five percent of the down payment or the monthly carrying cost that holds buyers back from hitting their target price point, house, and neighborhood.

You may be able to use gift funds from family members toward the down payment. Or find a lender that can offer a low-down payment mortgage or special loan products that benefit a well-employed borrower with stellar credit history.

Just ask your bank or shop around. Don’t accept what one bank tells you as the final word. A small change to financing can make the difference in getting a home in your preferred location or getting that finished basement you dreamed of.

Rent for another year

If things aren’t working out for you, put the home search on the back burner. Don’t let an expiring lease pressure you into a purchase.

The home search isn’t linear. Sometimes it needs to be tweaked along the way. If you hit a wall, take a step back and troubleshoot. Maintain close contact with your real estate agent and keep the dialogue open. Ask questions of yourself and be open to making changes to your search criteria.

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