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Purchasing a home is as much an emotional decision as a legally binding one. When you become attached to the property without falling in love with the price or discover there are elements of the house that are deal breakers, you don't want to be too committed. Understanding and walking through the process of buying a home in advance will help you make decisions based on data and will align with your gut feeling as well if you do it right.

Before buying a house

Before jumping into making an offer on the house, you need to get your ducks in a row. The first thing you should do is ensure that you have the proper funding to purchase a home. If you are purchasing a home with cash, then this won't be an issue. If not, however, there are several loans that may be the right fit for you. Finding the right one requires working with a mortgage broker, a bank, or credit union. Your real estate agent should have a recommendation of a great lender to use. If not, check around with any family or friends in the area who recently purchased a home.

Define Your Goals

Once you've got a pre-approval letter, it's time to define your goals in buying a house. Are you looking for your first real home in the city where you will live with a few of your dogs or are you looking for a place to raise your kids? Maybe you're looking for an investment property or a retirement or vacation home. Defining your goals prior to scouring through the MLS will help you to filter out any of the listings that won't be a great fit for your needs.


After you figure out your goals, make a rough list of what you need the house to have. Perhaps you have dogs and need at least ¼ acre for them to run around in, or you need a garage for your two cars. Whatever you want in your home that is non-negotiable, write it down. Having a list like this will help you filter it out even more in your search.

Start Looking!

Once you've got your goals and lists, it's time to look! When you locate a home that you feel might be the right fit, write it down and compare it to a few others that you may find along the way. Schedule a few walk-throughs with your real estate agent to make sure you feel completely comfortable in the home. There are things that pictures of the home can't fully explain! Compare the homes you like against each other, not only in amenities, but in location, the price of the home compared to others in the area, and any repairs or changes you'll need to complete on the property.

Best time to buy a house

Being worried about the market is perfectly normal when it comes to buying a house. Because the market changes so slowly, it is easy to track where in the market you are at, and where the most optimal times to buy are. From a technical standpoint, you want to buy a home right before prices and interest rates right at the bottom, before they start to rise again. If you happen to be on the slope up to even higher rates and you need a house soon, be prepared to shell out accordingly.

The best time to buy a house is also different on a person-to-person basis, depending on their goals. If a couple of poor college students are looking to buy a house, the best time for them to do so would probably be when they are able to save enough for the downpayment of the house. Also consider credit scores, employment changes, and an upcoming change in income level. Taking the time to evaluate these situations will help you make a decision you can still afford later.

Buying a house checklist:

  • Find a local, full-service real estate agent
  • Decide on funding
    • Get pre-approved, if necessary
    • Complete any paperwork involved
    • Obtain a pre-approval letter
  • Do your research
    • Make a list of future goals and where you see yourself with your house in 5 years
    • Make a list of must-haves in the home
    • Research the area
      • Complete any comparisons on price vs. value
      • School districts, parks, churches, if applicable
      • Know the zoning laws
      • Check if the neighborhood has an HOA
    • Make an offer
    • Inspect the property and get an appraisal
    • Close
      • Pay closing costs
      • Complete paperwork
      • Understand terms of the loan

Buying a house can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be. That's why we created Clever. Clever helps you find a local, flat fee full-service agent that not only has expertise in your market, they don't cost an arm and a leg to provide it. Call us at 1-833-2-CLEVER or complete our online form to get connected a top-rated local agent that will list your home with a discounted commission rate.


Ben Mizes

Ben Mizes is the co-founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top agents to save thousands on commission. He's an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed agent in Missouri. Ben enjoys writing about real estate, investing, personal finance, and financial freedom. He's a serial entrepreneur, having run several successful startups before Clever Real Estate. Ben's writing has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Realtor News, CNBC, and BiggerPockets.

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