Hire the right buyer's agent
You’ll be working closely with your real estate agent, so it’s essential that you find someone you get along with well. The right buyer’s agent should be highly skilled, motivated and knowledgeable about the area.
Pick the right type of house and neighborhood
You may assume you’ll buy a single-family home, and that could be ideal if you want a big yard or a lot of room. But if you’re willing to sacrifice space for less maintenance and extra amenities, and you don’t mind paying a homeowners association fee, a condo or townhouse could be a better fit.
When you’re browsing a new kitchen, don’t stop at eye level. Get underneath the sink and examine those pipes. Check for leaks, water damage, and mold. Not only is mold unsightly and foul-smelling, but it can also cause health problems.
Stick to your budget
Look at properties that cost less than the amount you were approved for. Although you can technically afford your preapproval amount, it’s the ceiling — and it doesn’t account for other monthly expenses or problems like a broken dishwasher that arise during homeownership, especially right after you buy. Shopping with a firm budget in mind will also help when it comes time to make an offer.
Don’t forget to look up top. If the roof looks damaged, chances are it could end up costing you. A newer roof, though, could mean a lower homeowners insurance rate. Additionally, a roof made of an especially sturdy material is better equipped to defend against wind and hail.
Turn on every faucet, flip every light switch, open the windows and door, and flush the toilets. Buying a house is a big step, and you need to know how everything works firsthand. That way, you can address problem areas and see if there’s a cost-effective solution.