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Buying real estate requires a certain amount of effort. By following a tried and true method of home shopping you can reduce that effort and at the same time make a dent in the anxiety that normally goes along with the process. The difference is as glaring as fixing a near microscopic crack in a sidewalk compared to repaving an entire slab.

Find a Real Estate Agent That Listens

It’s a given that you’d want a real estate agent that is familiar with the neighborhood you’re interested in and all the legalities that go along with a real estate deal. But, consider this; you’ll be working with this person for several weeks at least. You may get lucky and find a home quickly but it still takes a while to close. Sometimes the search goes on for months in a tight market, especially if you have a limited budget. Finding a real estate agent that really listens to your wants and needs can make the process easier. A sharp agent won’t show you a three bedroom, one bathroom home when you have a family of six, unless you ask them to or it’s a deal that is just too good to be true.  It’s not always possible to cover everything in your wish list but some things are just a matter of logistics.

Get Finances in Order

Before you even think about looking at properties get preapproved for a mortgage. This will show your agent and potential sellers that you are serious and at the same time establish a budget. It’s no fun to look at a property, fall in love with it and then discover it’s out of your price range. With a bottom line figure in hand you can tell your agent you don’t want to look at anything higher. There are sometimes exceptions to this rule, such as a property that’s been on the market for a while and the listed price is negotiable. Having that preapproval helps here as well; you stand a better change of getting the home for less if you have a firm offer.

Wants vs. Needs

One of the best ways of getting the most for your money in a home is to make a list of wants and needs. You may not get everything on those lists but having them in front of you gives a better idea of what you can sacrifice without too much pain. For example, going back to that three-bedroom home scenario, you and your family need at least four bedrooms and two bathrooms to make living in that house even reasonably comfortable. Those two items are not negotiable. But that pool in the backyard is not a necessity. It’s wiser to give up the cement pond for your family’s comfort. This goes back to your agent really listening. Even if that agent doesn’t have four or more kids, the thought of six people sharing one bathroom in the mornings should lead him or her to the same conclusion. If not, well, you might have the wrong agent.

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