This is an article By Rick Perkins
Stark County Asociation of Realtors
I wanted to add that as realtors we know that you want to do alot of research on your own, which is great! But you don't have to settle in dealing with whichever realtor is on the sign outside (the seller's realtor). You owe it to yourself to research realtors and find a buyer's agent who works for you, someone you trust. That buyer's agent can help you with any home on the market, regardless of what real estate company it's listed with, including for sale by owners. You just have to call your realtor first when you see something of interest. When visiting an open house, just be honest and let the seller's agent know that you have a realtor. Happy House Hunting!
With the prequalification and preapproval process behind you, now is the time to start doing your homework and taking some field trips. Consider using the remaining cold winter months to plan for your buying needs.
Become an educated buyer: Research neighborhoods, read ads and visit open houses.
If you were changing cities, the standard advice is to subscribe to the newspaper in the new town and start reading local news and classified ads to get a feeling for different neighborhoods. Although that is a good idea, you can simplify and streamline the house-hunting process by using the Internet to find a home, find a Realtor, find a neighborhood and find resources.
For local moves, you have the advantage of driving around neighborhoods that interest you and looking at lawn signs. Particularly on weekends, you will see “Open House” postings. Do not hesitate to visit open houses, as it is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the market.
Your Wish List
Making sure you end up with the right home involves figuring out what features you need, want and do not want in a home. Before starting your search, make a “wish list” to decide which features are essential, which are nice “extras,” if you happen to find them and which are completely undesirable.
The more specific you can be in what you want, the more effective your home search will be. Keep in mind, that in the end, every home purchase is a compromise. Create your own personalized “wish list” and when you are finished, share it with your Realtor-partner.
Is it close to your favorite spots?
Make a list of the activities — movies, health club, church, etc. — you engage in regularly and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel from each neighborhood you are considering to engage in your most common activities.
Check out the school district. This is especially important if you have children, but it also can affect resale value. The Ohio Department of Education can provide information on test scores, class size, percentage of students who attend college and special enrichment programs. If you have school-age children, visit schools in the neighborhoods you are considering.
Find out if the neighborhood is safe. Ask the police department for neighborhood crime statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type, such as burglaries or armed robberies, and the trend of increasing or decreasing crime. In addition, is crime in only one part of the neighborhood, such as near a retail area?
Determine if the neighborhood is economically stable. Check with the city’s economic development office to see if income and property values in the neighborhood are stable or rising. What is the percentage of homes to apartments? Apartments do not necessarily diminish value, but do mean a more transient population. Do you see vacant businesses or homes that have been for sale for months?
See if you will make money. Ask your Realtor-partner to get information about price appreciation in the neighborhood. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, this information may give you a sense of how good of an investment your home will be. Your Realtor-partner also may be able to tell you about planned developments or other changes in the neighborhood — like a new school or highway — that might affect value.
Make personal observations. Once you have narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, go there and walk around the area. Are homes tidy and well maintained? Are streets quiet? How does it feel? Pick a warm day if you can and chat with people working or playing outside.
Buying a home can be one of life’s most exciting experiences — and one of the most challenging. The more prepared you are at the outset, the less overwhelming and the buying process will be.
If you have any questions about the home buying or selling process, or if you are having trouble making your monthly mortgage payment contact a Realtor with the Stark County Association of Realtors. A Realtor will help you in the process from start to finish. Keep in mind, legal questions regarding real estate should be directed to an attorney