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Moving in a hurry? Take these steps to jump-start your house-hunting

If you're relocating because of a new job and your house-hunting time is limited, you'll want to jump-start the process.

Your first step should be on the Internet. It can be one of the best sources for information on for-sale homes anywhere in the country. Sites such as Realtor.com can match your wish list with what's available. Enter information about your desired location and price range, and these sites may help narrow or expand your selections.

Some sites have more information than others do so check out as many as you can. Many sites show a picture of the property and some have virtual tours that give a 360-degree view of the house and individual rooms.

But the Internet can provide more than that, says Ted Deutsch of Cendant Corp., based in Parsippany, N.J.

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Internet is best tool
"The Internet is the best tool for getting information on your own terms at any time. There are a lot of good Web sites that offer listing information, plus information on neighborhoods, schools and even the real estate transaction process."

Deutsch suggests Century21.com and Coldwellbanker.com, two Cendant subsidiaries.

Your company probably will provide at least one house-hunting trip of two, possibly three days. Have an idea of what towns you'd like to see and have an appointment all ready set with a real estate agent. Your company may assist you in selecting an agent. In any event, check the agent's references.

"Find out if the person's knowledgeable, honest," says Terry Eilers, author of How to Buy the Home You Want, for the Best Price in Any Market. "I'd want five, six or seven references -- if they refuse or only give one or two, walk away."

Claudine Tahan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Parsippany, says that contacting the real estate agent in advance is critical to making the most of your house-hunting trip.

"Ask for school reports or whatever else is important to you. We can have agents ready to take clients to various neighborhoods and an itinerary waiting at the hotel when they arrive."

Create a wish list
Tahan also suggests that each person on the house-hunting trip create a "wish list" before the trip.

"A married couple might have two different wish lists. Putting it on paper gets them started on the same page early, instead of when time is precious."

Once you get to the house-hunting location, Tahan says it's best to focus on areas.

"If they have to make a decision in one weekend, spend the first day and a half touring areas -- then focus on housing. If they find the perfect home and it's not in an area that's conducive to their needs, it won't work."

Terry Eilers advises getting a 24-hour view of the neighborhood.

"What looks like a nice street during the day could be a racetrack at night."

Another important consideration is getting prequalified for a mortgage before the house-hunting trip. If you find a house you like, it will speed the purchasing process.

Selling in a hurry
Eilers also has some suggestions for the other side of the equation -- selling your home in a hurry.

"There are three critical things. Price is first: Find the comparable sale price -- not the price other homes are listed at, but what they're selling at. Find out what they sold for in the last six months. Just because you have nicer carpet, driveway or a bigger yard -- it doesn't matter."

After that, Eilers says it's time to spiff up the old homestead.

"The two best things you can spend your money on are paint and cleaning."

And third, make sure the house is marketed properly. If it's not selling, Eilers suggests working some more on price and condition.

 

-- Posted: July 7, 2004

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