20 steps to get
the best deal on a home
Make a list, check it twice. Another
way to narrow your search in a market with many
choices is to really zero in on the individual
features of your future home. Which items do
you really need? Which do you merely want? Which
And what would be a deal-breaker?
"You've got to make sure that what you're
looking for is really what you want," says
Patricia Fitzgerald, broker/owner of Coastal
Properties in Jupiter, Fla. If you're buying
the home with a spouse, make up your own separate
lists first, then try to integrate them. That
way, you approach sellers and agents as a united
front -- and you're more likely to get what
Do your homework. If there are communities you like, do the in-depth research
now. Buyers, especially in a market with a lot of choices, "get caught up
in finding the 'perfect house,' and don't do their research," says Tyson.
Instead, "you want to be able to take advantage of the fact that we've got
a lot of choices."
- Study the quality and cost
of living. If you're semi-local, shop in the
community for a week or so. Buy groceries,
gas and all the little necessities in the
same places you'd patronize if you already
lived there. Sample the way of life by checking
out things you use, like libraries, health
clubs, bookstores, restaurants and movie theaters.
the commute. It's one thing to drive an area on Sunday morning and look at homes.
It's another to roll out of the driveway at 7 a.m. Monday morning and fight commuter
traffic. So drive it during rush hour. And if you want to use public transportation,
check out those options, too.
- Scope out the schools. If
you have kids, or are planning a family, research the neighborhood schools. What
do they look like, and what kind of reputation and scores do they enjoy?
the newspaper. Almost every community has a local paper. Subscribe -- via mail
or online, and keep up with the local happenings. From water quality to zoning,
you're likely to get the inside information you really don't get anywhere else.