Homebuying Dos and Don'ts

Take in these 8 tips for house hunting success.

Do research the neighborhood.

Look at the house, but also look at the neighborhood. Location is the most important thing, so it's critical to look at more than bricks and mortar.

How can you choose the right community? Become a neighborhood detective. Figure out what you're looking for, do research and find a neighborhood that fits your description.

Do look at several houses before you buy.

Buying the first house you look at it is kind of like marrying the first person you go on a date with -- not necessarily a good idea. If you buy a home without comparing it to other listings in the area, you're likely to overpay or miss out on a great nearby home. Walk through at least three homes before you choose. If you still love the first one you saw, make an offer!

Do invest in a professional inspection.

Sellers don't always disclose the whole truth to potential buyers, or they might have done a band-aid job to cover up issues until the deal closes. The average home buyer takes 15 minutes or less to choose a home, but many potential problems, like plumbing and wiring trouble, might not be visible to the naked eye.

Home inspectors can look beyond the fresh coat of paint to find costly underlying problems. Splurge on an experience professional -- it will save you time, money and house-induced heartache later on.

Do buy based on needs, not wants.

The average Americas lives in the same home for about 9 years, so it's crucial that you think about your long-term needs when buying a home. A 2-bedroom house with a gourmet kitchen may dazzle you today, but will you still be enamored down the road when your family starts to grow? Make a list of your needs and stick to it to avoid buyer's remorse down the road.

Don't overbid at real estate auctions

While it's possible to get a deal on your dream home at the auction house, buying a home at auction isn't always a bargain. The starting price may seem reasonable, but several bidders can force the price well over market value.

Avoid overbidding by doing research. Are any outstanding property taxes or liens that you'd have to pay for upon purchase? What are comparable homes in the area selling for? Is the neighborhood on the way up or on the way out? On auction day, set a strict budget and don't let emotions take hold of your paddle in a bidding war.

Don't buy a house for its decor.

A home might have gorgeous furnishings at the showing, but it needs to accommodate your furnishings and lifestyle after the sellers pack up their sofa. Look past a home's decor and make sure the space will accommodate your lifestyle and furnishings.

Are the spaces functional and efficient for your daily routine? You might love how a seller has transformed an extra bedroom into a crafting space, but will it be big enough for your twins' bunk beds? Focus on the floor plan and the square footage to decide if a home is right for you.

Don't trust everything you read in a real estate ad.

If you don't read between the lines, you might fall for every word in a real estate ad. Like any ad, real estate classifieds are meant to pique your interest enough to make you take a closer look. Be a savvy buyer and decode the clever phrases sellers use to draw you in.

For example, if an ad says a home is "cozy," it's probably very small. "As-is" means there's likely a lot of work to be done. "Motivated sellers" may be more willing to negotiate their price, but get an inspection to make sure there's not an underlying reason (like faulty wiring or bad plumbing) they can't wait to sell. Learning the lingo will help you keep realistic expectations for showings.

Don't buy the most expensive house on the block.

Keep up with the Joneses, but don't outdo them. You won't get the same return on investment with the biggest house on the block, and you might have trouble selling later on.

Before you purchase a home, research the neighborhood. Is the house you're considering overbuilt for the area? Are comparable homes selling in the area? You'll be glad you gathered the information if you ever decide to sell.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Home Finance Dos and Don'ts

Protect your pocketbook with our top home finance tips.

Homeowner's Insurance for Condo Owners

Unlike owning a home, when you buy a condo your homeowner’s insurance policy doesn't cover your belongings. Here's how to protect your personal property.

Buying a Home: Don't Forget These Expenses

When deciding how large a down payment you can afford, remember to leave yourself some padding.

What Do I Do With All These Closing Papers?

As long as you own your home, you want to keep a copy of everything you sign. This checklist makes organizing easy.

23 Things Every First-Time Homebuyer Should Know

Seven first-time homebuyers admit their biggest rookie blunders and reveal recession-proof lessons to guarantee home buying success.

How to Sell Your House Fast When Foreclosure Looms

Tips on how to sell your house fast when foreclosure is looming.

Moving Checklist: 4 Tips to Get You Going

Moving to a new home? Here are four tips to get the ball rolling.

Mind Your Marriage and Your Mortgage

When it comes to buying a home, married couples have all the advantages. With marriage being an option for more people now, see how it can change a mortgage.

5 Types of Neighbors and How to Handle Them

You can pick your friends, but not your family -- or your neighbors. Here’s what you need to know.

Are You Financially Ready to Buy an Investment Property?

Here's what you need to consider in this real estate market before shelling out for an investment property.

On TV

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.