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Buying a home can be tricky, especially if you are not an experienced home buyer. But, by dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s, you can be sure to be successful and end up in a home that you’ll love for years to come. Here are 5 things, whether your experienced or not, that every home buyer should do before signing on the dotted line.

Commission a Home Inspection

The seller may not disclose all defects in the home you want to buy – as a matter of fact they may not even know that they exist! A certified home inspector can point out defects that may have been overlooked and that could run into costly repairs in the future. It’s their job to ensure the electrical is up to standard, there are no leaks in plumbing or any underlying mold, the windows and doors are in good condition, the roof is ok and even things like the glassed in porch or back deck are ok.

When you have a home inspection done, you can go in with the inspector and even invite your real estate agent so that you all have a sense of the home, it’s condition, and decide then what you want to do. You may still love the home and want to buy it, but you’ll want to talk to your real estate agent about reducing the offered price due to repairs that are required, and have them go back to the seller or listing agent to discuss. You may also want to wait for the inspectors report prior to doing so, to ensure that nothing is missed.

It’s important to keep in mind, without an inspection, you might miss something that could cost you in the long run.

Get Prequalified

In a hot market, you may have several bidders for a single property – as a matter of fact, in some areas, a listing real estate agent might list a property for below market value just to start a bidding war. It’s a sales strategy that has been used in the past, and will continue to be used, to ensure the seller gets top dollar for their home.

With this in mind, you will want to ensure you have a prequalification statement which indicates just how much of a mortgage you can afford. Do this before even looking at homes, so that you don’t find yourself in a situation where you love a home but aren’t sure you can continue making offers as you don’t know how high you can go.

When you do find your dream home, or the exact home you are looking for, you want to ensure you can act quickly with offers so that in case you are part of a bidding war, you won’t lose out just because you weren’t sure.

Test Drive Your Commute

Don’t take the real estate agent or homeowner’s word for it. Find out for yourself. Take a day to drive or take the bus to work from the house. You should do this on a typical day to ensure that you know what you are getting yourself into.

As your daily commute is a huge aspect of your life, you want to ensure you can handle what it takes and that it’s not something that will drive you crazy!

Leave the Kids at Home

At first, when you are looking for a new home, it might be best to leave the kids at home. Although you want them to be part of the home buying process eventually, when you first start it’s important to keep the emotion aside and focus on the practicality of the home and ensure it has everything you are looking for.

Once you’ve narrowed it down, perhaps that could be a good time to get kids involved. At that point, they won’t be a distraction and you can see if they will be able to adapt to the few homes you have narrowed it down to. This way, they still feel involved with the process and you won’t find yourself making any decisions simply because of an emotional attachment to a home.

Visit at Odd Hours

If you have settled on a specific property or area and are unfamiliar with the area, you should look at it during multiple times of the day and different days of the week. It’s amazing what you will find. A house that appears to be in a quiet neighborhood might end up being on a street that is loud at night. Or, perhaps the home is on a school route, or busy during rush hour traffic. And, what’s it like on the weekend? Are there a lot of kids around or is it mainly adults that keep to themselves?

Depending on what you are looking for, this could be the #1 thing to make or break your decision on a home. It needs to cater to your needs, your family and your everyday life. Visit during the week, in the morning, at night, on the weekends. Really get a feel for what the neighborhood is like and go from there. You can also introduce yourself to neighbors and see what they have to say…or find out from the city if there are any pending area projects you might want to know about. Bottom line is: knowledge is king and it can make or break a decision for you.

The 5 tips for home buyers are just a start. Every home buyer is different: different wants, different needs and different phases of life. As part of the home buying experience, make sure you communicate all aspects of what you are looking for with your real estate agent. They can help provide insight, suggestions and even help with some of the above tasks in case you need referrals or simply someone to help identify what the neighborhood is like.

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