First Person: I have been house hunting for several months now. That may seem like a long time for some people, but I want to make sure I'm getting a good deal. I've never purchased a home before, and I figured it would take me awhile to learn the ropes. And I was right. I've almost purchased two houses that were greatly overvalued. It would have been a horrible financial decision, but those experiences taught me how to make better choices.
I learned, and now I know a few tricks to finding a good deal on a new house. Here are my house hunting secrets.
Look For Buyer's Markets
Real estate agents will make it seem like an entire city (or even an entire state) are in the same real estate market. I've learned that simply isn't true. While most of my city is in a buyer's market right now and there are more houses available then there are buyers, sellers still have the advantage in some areas.
If you want the best deal, look for neighborhoods where you will have an edge. For example, if you see a lot of for sale signs, the neighborhood is probably a buyer's market.
Look For Small Upgrades
Homes that could use some minor upgrading can be a bargain. For example, I recently looked at two houses. They were the same size and in the same neighborhood, but one was priced $6,000 less than the other one. The only difference between the two houses - the cheaper one was a little outdated.
When you're looking at houses, try and look past the outdated wallpaper or worn carpet. Those things are cheap to fix and you could get a really good deal on a house that needs some upgrading.
The biggest mistake I've made while house hunting was wanting to put in an offer at the seller's asking price. I wanted the house, not the hassle. Thankfully, my real estate agent talked me into haggling with the seller a bit. I put in a lower offer, the seller countered, and we have been slowly going back and forth.
While it won't always work, I'm about to close on a house for about $5,000 less than the asking price because I submitted a low bid and negotiated with the sellers. If I'd followed my instinct and just jumped on the house, it would have cost me a lot of money.
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