Buying a House: 8 Strategies for Non-Millionaires

Many people have the erroneous impression that buying a house is just something you do – like buying shoes. Few of us realize that to buy a house you need to develop skills you may not yet possess.

For many folks – your average non-millionaires – buying a house represents the single biggest purchase they will ever make. With a purchase so monumental and life-changing, the potential exists for huge mistakes as well as massive benefits.

1. Attitude: Your secret weapon should be a calm and rational mind. With the mindset that you are a business person, making a series of business decisions, it becomes easier to deal with unhelpful emotions clouding your judgment. Your outlook from the beginning will guide you through the myriad of decisions needed to get the results you want.

2. Location: Don’t start to house hunt until you have worked out the ideal location for your lifestyle. How much commuting do you want to do? Distance from your work, school, grocery store, library, and other public amenities. Spend some time planning out distances to places you use all the time and how you and your family are likely to use them over time.

3. Renovation Project or Good as New: If you target location is a premium neighborhood, a renovated home sells at top price whereas a fixer-upper could save hundreds of thousands, even if it means DIY over a couple of years. In this instance, the fixer-upper could be the better deal. In a more moderately priced neighborhood, the ready to move-in property may be the best buy.

4. Ignore Small Irritations: The house smells musty, the carpet’s awful – these are superficial details that are relatively cheap and simple to fix. Don’t let them influence your buying decision and pick up a bargain others may overlook.

5. Focus on the Big Issues: Is the house located in a hot climate? Large roof overhangs and shade trees will help with the air conditioning bill. How efficient is the air conditioner? If the winters are bad, look for a house with plenty of windows facing the sun. How good is the furnace? How well insulated is the home? Good window placement and solar exposure enhances the living environment and can save thousands of dollars each year.

6. Layout: Real estate agents say square footage, relative to other houses close by, is the biggest factor in appraisals and setting a listing price. But more importantly, is there enough room for your family and friends? An 800 square foot house can fit this requirement, while a 3500 square foot one sometimes can’t. And a house all at ground level can make for an efficient layout.

7. Don’t Be In a Hurry: Research as many listings and sales in your neighborhood as you can. Gain an understanding of the market in the area on a fairly deep level. This is a large sum of money you’ll be spending and it makes sense to spend six months or even more shopping.

8. Move Fast: If you’ve been doing all that groundwork, you’ll recognize when the perfect purchase crosses your radar. Now you must act fast, viewing within a few hours of listing and making an offer the same day. Good deals go quickly, so if you want one yourself, you must be even faster.

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