House Hunting Tips (For First-Timers)

House Hunting Tips (for First-Timers)

Buying your first home is a big deal. Don’t let yourself get carried away.

With these first-time house hunting tips, you can find a home that fits your needs and your budget.


Buying a home is a huge investment. Whether you’re staying for the long-haul or planning to upgrade to something else down the line, you need to make sure you’re secured with the knowledge to buy a home that suits your wants and needs.

If you love a certain neighborhood but the only home available has three bedrooms (and you need four), do not settle for that! You will end up hating your home and wishing you had waited. Your perfect home in the perfect area will eventually show up.

Have patience and use these next few tips to find your perfect home.


Hire an Agent

Would you trust Dr. Google over a licensed physician with years of experience? No? Then don’t leave the fate of your home and happiness in the hands of a search engine!

client shaking hands with real estate agent

Professional real estate agents can rely on hours of education and years of experience. They are experts regarding the ins and outs of how to buy a home. They know how to negotiate a good deal and most importantly, they know what to look for in a home. They know the best neighborhoods, crime rates, potential red flags, and—most importantly—how to find a home that fits your goals and needs.

This is one step you cannot skip!


Know What You Can Afford

Make sure you have your loan pre-approval letter before you start looking (not just a pre-qualification). This will give you a better idea of the amount you can spend.

The reason this step is important is so that you’re not falling in love with homes that are outside your approved budget. (After all, you don’t want to get discouraged. Home buying should be exciting!)

But remember, just because you can spend a certain amount doesn’t mean you should. The bank’s offer is the very most that they’re willing to lend you; there are no rules that say you can’t take less.

Crunch the numbers and make a realistic estimate of what you can afford. Make sure you’re working with your realtor to negotiate a good deal that gets you your dream home and doesn’t max out your budget.

Think of it this way…you know that awful neon green paint in the bathroom of your dream home? With all the extra money you’re saving by not spending the most, you’ll have enough to splurge on that Ralph Lauren paint you’ve been eyeing.

real estate agent conducting home tour

Know What’s Important

When it comes to house hunting, there are some things you can change and some things you can’t. The things that you can’t change should be your non-negotiables.

Decide what your needs are and make a list of non-negotiable things that are important to you.

Here are some examples:

  • Location (Location, Location!) – It’s one of the most important things to look for in a home. After all, Cento Moving has moved a lot of things, but even we can’t move a house!
  • Schools – If you have kids (and don’t plan on homeschooling), you’ll want to know the quality of the education they will receive. Check the rating of the schools in the area. A bad rating may be a deal breaker.
  • Crime Rates – If you’re unfamiliar with the neighborhood, look up the recent crime statistics to make sure you’re bringing your family into a safe environment. Remember, no area is 100% crime-free, but zip codes that are accustomed to serious, violent crimes might not be best for you.
  • Square Footage – If you’ve determined that your family needs four bedrooms, don’t settle for a house that only has three (unless you have enough saved to pay for an addition). Paying hundreds of thousands for a home that doesn’t fit your needs will just leave you feeling frustrated.
  • Layout – Like the location, a home’s layout is pretty much set in stone. If you’ve had your heart set on a split floor plan or a certain amount of storage, don’t settle for something that doesn’t meet your needs.
  • Utility Company – It’s something that most people don’t consider, but think about it. You don’t always have a choice when it comes to who supplies your water and power. If they are charging an arm and a leg for dirty water, that’s something you’ll want to know beforehand.


Potential Red Flags

The more homes you walk through, the more your “must haves” list will change. And while everyone’s list will be different, there are a few “red flags” that may be worth looking out for.

While you’re wandering through the rooms, check to see if you have cell phone service throughout the house. If coverage is spotty in the places you need it most, that will be a point of frustration later on. (Keep in mind, however, that there are fixes for this.)

Aerial shot of neighborhood houses

You’ve heard it before when it comes to real estate: location, location, location! And sometimes, checking a home’s exact location on a map can give you valuable information about the type of things you can expect from it in the future. Before you visit (and possibly fall in love with) a home, check the address to see if it’s in an area prone to floods, earthquakes, or sinkholes. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to walk away from the home, but you may need to purchase additional insurance coverage, which can be expensive.

If the seller doesn’t let you look in a particular area of the house, that’s a huge red flag. After all, you’re buying an entire house, not just portions of it.


Know What’s NOT Important

“Deal breakers” are things that can’t be changed. For everything else, it helps to remember that you have control.

The gross paint color and ugly carpet? You can change them. Old water heater? You can have it replaced. Front yard gone to seed? You can always throw down some sod and have it looking new again.

As you tour potential homes, don’t think of every feature as “permanent.”

That being said, if you would need to completely remodel the entire home to feel comfortable there, that might require more budget than you’re willing to spend. Make note of the things you would like to change, crunch the numbers, and keep an open mind.


Get the Inspection

Some home loans require a home inspection before they’ll give you the loan, some don’t.

Our advice? Do not skip out on the home inspection! Homes are very expensive and it’s important to know what you’re investing in.

A home inspection is one of the most important steps in the home buying process.

Spare no expense on this; quality is of the utmost importance. A home inspector’s job is to make a thorough inspection of the home, including things you’d never think to check. A home inspector is only as good as their qualifications and experience, so don’t shop based purely on price.

Within a week of the inspection, you will receive an inspection report, which is like a snapshot of the home’s current condition. If the report comes back with a list of potential issues, you can use this information to negotiate a lower price. If only minor fixes are needed, you’ll be able to move forward with peace of mind.



Buying a home is an exciting time but it’s also a huge decision, so don’t let yourself get carried away!

With these house hunting tips (and a lot of patience!), you’ll be able to find a home that fits your needs and makes you feel, well…right at home! Before you know it, you’ll be writing the closing date on the calendar and getting ready for moving day.

And when that day comes, we’d love to hear from you! Here at Cento Moving, our goal is to treat your family as if it were our own, so that your relocation is completed with care and precision. From packing services to long-distance moves and more, you can trust Cento for all your relocation needs!


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