Home Shopping: What to Look for and Look Past

Home shopping can be overwhelming, fun and exciting, all at the same time. An experienced team of a mortgage banker and real estate agent can help to guide you through the mortgage and home buying process, to help the whole process feel less overwhelming.

Don’t stress — we’re also here to help. Let’s talk about what to focus on when you’re shopping for a home and what things you should look past when browsing homes.

What to pay attention to

When you first meet with your mortgage banker, they’ll either pre-qualify or pre-approve you based on information you provide them. This will give you the amount of home you qualify for, so you know what you can comfortably afford before you start looking. This is also helpful information for your real estate agent to have, so that they know what homes to show you and stay within your price range. A mortgage banker should be able to explain the whole mortgage process and answer any questions, which should help de-stress the home buying process.

There are many different loan options and each of them has different requirements and guidelines, so talk with your mortgage banker about what you qualify for to find the right loan for you. You’ll also sit down with your real estate agent and discuss what you’re looking for in a home. How many bedrooms? Do you want a big yard? What about hardwood floors? It’s important to separate what you need and what you’re willing to compromise on. Maybe you have to have at least 3 bedrooms but can be flexible on number of bathrooms. We’ve provided a Home Buying Wishlist to help you get started.

When you’re walking through potential homes, it’s also important to look at things like the roof, appliances, and any smells or stains. Are there visible problems with the roof? How old are the appliances? If you can see water stains (or patchwork where there was water damage), or if the home looks old and unkept, there may be more serious problems.

4 things to looks past

There are certain things that matter less when you go home shopping. For example, cosmetic fixes — things like paint and wall paper — shouldn’t stop you from buying a home that checks off all your other Wishlist boxes. Here are 4 things that you should ignore when home shopping.

Odd wallpaper and ugly paint

It’s nice to have a home that’s move-in ready, but you may find the perfect house that just needs a little love. Wall paper can be taken down and a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a house that has good bones. Even though it’s hard to imagine the living room without the peeling, bird-covered wall paper, try and ignore wallpaper and bad paint jobs. Cosmetic fixes are only a small DIY cost.

Dirty carpet

Yes, dirty carpet is gross, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you love everything else about the home. Carpet, like wallpaper and paint, can be changed and you don’t have to break the bank to do it. Sometimes you can even negotiate for new carpet in your offer. If the carpet is really beat up, the seller may be willing to replace it as part of the sale.

A room used for something else

Just because the current home owners are using the second bedroom as a walk-in closet doesn’t mean you have to. Try and look past their furniture, clothes, and décor and imagine your things in the space, instead. Would a bed fit in their “walk-in closet?” Is there a closet in the room? It may be hard to picture, but don’t let it stop you from finding your dream house.

The seller's things

Many real estate agents will advise their sellers to declutter to appeal to buyers, but not every seller will follow their advice. While many houses you visit will probably still have tenants, try and ignore their stuff. Remember, just because they have a bird-themed living room (complete with bird-covered wallpaper), doesn’t mean that you have to, too. We know, it can be extremely distracting, but once your things are moved in, the space will start to become your own. The same thing goes for clutter. Look past the piles of books, stacks of dishes, and clothes spilling from the closet at the things that really matter in the home. Once you find the perfect home and make it your own, the house you fell in love with will turn into your home.