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When you enter the real estate game, it’s important to have a plan. If you want to find the right home, at the right price and avoid the pitfalls of real estate newbies, then take a look at these 10 tactics and strategies to keep your mind focused during your search.

So get your game face on and let’s start planning!

1. Learn about loans

Mortgage loans are one of the most complicated pieces of the home buying puzzle – and they have the biggest effect on how much you pay for your home. However, according to recent data from the California Association of Realtors, 54% of first-time buyers didn’t fully understand the different loan options available and 43% said they did not completely understand the process.

Take your time and immerse yourself in the world of Mortgage loans. First of all, take a look at the Homebuyers Cost of Waiting to get an idea for how important it is to secure a low rate while you can. Then dive into the process so you know what to expect. We suggest starting with these 4 easy steps to getting a mortgage loan.

2. Tour houses in real life – not just online

Nearly every homebuyer starts their search online but once you get serious, get out there and start viewing homes. Open houses are your friend. You can read square footage counts but until you see it for yourself you won’t know if it’ll work for you. Check out open houses in Southern California this weekend and take action on your homebuyer game plan.

3. Never forget to negotiate

The real estate market is about to heat up for spring and summer, which means more competition. The best way to combat that competition is with a great strategy. That being said, it’s important to put an offer on a home that is competitive with other buyers when the competition is fierce.

Once the seller chooses your offer, THEN you can start negotiating things like closing costs, repairs and buyer credits. There are literally hundreds of negotiating points in a home purchase contract so work with your agent to find a combo that benefits you when the time comes. For more info on how to negotiate throughout your home purchase, check out these 7 tips.

4. Research the surrounding area

You don’t just want to find a house, you want to find a home. That means you need to do some research and make sure you love the community you’re going to be moving into, not just the house.

Are there restaurants and shops around that you like? Is the community on it’s way up or are big companies on their way out of town? You can contact the city to learn more about the area’s history as well. This could turn up information on major construction planned for the future, water contamination problems, etc. These things affect your future and the future of your investment so you don’t want to be blind sighted.

5. Don’t forget about schools

Whether you have kids or not, schools can make a big difference in real estate values. For personal and financial reasons, it’s smart to check out the school district assigned to your home, as a good school district will add $15,000 to $50,000 to your home’s value.

6. Stalk out the perfect neighborhood

Drop by morning, noon and night to get a full picture of what an area is like before you buy. Once you think you’ve found the perfect area it’s important to see it for yourself in every possible light to make sure it’s where you want to call home.

Is the commute ok during traffic hours? Does it feel safe at night? How far is the nearest grocery store? These are the types of questions you will figure out by driving around the neighborhood and experiencing it for yourself.

7. Pay attention to detail during the inspection

It’s obvious; you need to get a home inspection before you buy a house. Make the most out of it by paying close attention to his findings. This is your failsafe because if you don’t like the results, you can back out of the deal.

The results can also be a negotiating tool. If the inspection reveals minor problems like doors that don’t open easily or windows that won’t shut all the way, you can ask the seller to fix these problems before you will buy the house or ask for a price reduction.

8. Always keep budget in mind

From the moment you set your initial budget for a home to the last piece of paperwork you sign, don’t lose sight of your budget. First of all, this means staying in your price range while searching for homes. Although you might think it’s fun to walk through gorgeous homes outside of your price range, it’s really just depressing – and leave you disappointed with what is in your price range.

Keeping budget in mind also means not falling for staging and other superficial points about a house that don’t matter. The most important determining factors when choosing a home are things like location, structural integrity, and layout. These are all things that can’t be (easily) changed once you buy unlike paint colors and décor choices.

9. Keep thinking about the future

A home is a long-term commitment that means when you’re out there searching, always consider your future as well as the present. For example, it’s not usually wise to buy the largest, most expensive house in a neighborhood. The priciest home is likely overbuilt for the neighborhood and won’t appreciate as much as other homes on the block, which means your future resale is tougher.

10. Never stop asking questions

The best homebuyer is a well-informed one. That’s why it’s important to work with professionals you trust and never stop asking questions. If you don’t understand the mortgage loan process, ask more about it until your satisfied. If you don’t understand the results of your home inspection, get down to the bottom of it until you understand the facts. If you don’t understand a negotiating tactic your agent brings to the table, have them elaborate.

Sit down with a real estate agent and start putting your homebuyer game plan into action. You can find an agent online or simply reach out and we’ll connect you with an experienced buyers agent near you.

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