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The Home Buying Process

Step 4 Of 6

Step 4: Find A Home

Finding Your Home

Where to live? Your choice will influence nearly every aspect of your daily life for years to come. Here are some things to consider as you begin your search.

Location, Location, Location

A Location Location Location

1. Once you've determined how much you can afford to spend, concentrate your search in areas that have houses in your price range. You can find these areas by:

  • Working with a qualified real estate agent.
  • Checking out the real estate section of the newspaper.
  • Searching online at various real estate sites.

2. Find out the demographics for a particular community, as well as information about housing and employment opportunities, by conducting an online search for websites hosted for local municipalities.

3. Take a test drive, starting from each of your top two neighborhoods to your place of work, during both morning and evening rush hour. How long does it take you? Are you willing to live with the time commitment? Are there alternative forms of transportation (bus, ferry, train) that you could use?

4. When you've chosen your favorite neighborhood, drive through at different times of the day and night (especially late night if you're a light sleeper) to check out traffic and noise levels.

Listen for:

  • Airplane traffic/noise. (This information is available on a hazards report if you decide to get one.)
  • Foot traffic.
  • Trains.
  • Car traffic.
  • Is it quiet/peaceful?
  • Look at nearby businesses. What places are open at night that you wouldn't notice during the day (e.g., dance clubs, late night restaurants).

5. Ask yourself, "What are my chances of staying in my current job for the length of time I'll be living in the house? If changing work locations is a possibility, you won't want to pick a house just because it's near your current employer.

Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmatic

B Reading, Riting, Rithmatic

The quality of your children's education will determine the quality of their future. Call the local school district or consider doing research online. (Please note, not all school districts have websites.)

Here are some suggested questions to think about:

  • How do students score on statewide and national tests?
  • How many students go on to college?
  • What colleges do they attend?
  • What are some of the problems facing the schools in this area?
  • What about drug use and the incidences of violence?
  • What about their weapons in school policy?  (Zero tolerance is best.)
  • What is the student/teacher ratio?
  • What about art, music, drama and sports programs?
  • What are the ages of the facilities? Old or new?
  • What is the student/computer ratio?
  • At what grade level are computer skills taught?
  • What is the language program like?

Shop Where Its Easy To Drop

C Shop Where It's Easy To Drop

1. Look at the local Chamber of Commerce website to get a feeling for the type of community you'll be joining.

If the Chamber of Commerce doesn't have a website, look up the phone number in the Yellow Pages® and give them a phone call. They'll be happy to talk to you and mail any information you need.

2. Take a drive around the adjoining shopping areas and take notes on what you find. Will you have easy access to your:

  • Favorite grocery stores
  • Dry cleaners
  • Doctors
  • Hospital
  • Fire station
  • Police station
  • Dentists
  • Place of worship
  • Restaurants

The Long Arm of the Law

D The Long Arm Of The Law

Be sure to find out the following information:

1. Tax rates for the area. (You should be able to get this from your real estate agent.)

2. Covenants
Many neighborhoods have covenants you will be required to follow. For example:

  • Number of outbuildings you can have and/or build, if any.  
  • House paint color guidelines.
  • Maximum number of pets allowed.

Your real estate agent can provide this information to you.

3. Crime rates You want your family and your possessions to be safe.  Be sure to check out the rate of personal and property crime in your area. Call the local police department and talk to the Public Information Officer.

4. Zoning  What's the neighborhood zoning? Could you wake up one morning with an office complex being built across the street? Ask your real estate agent or check with the local library for help in identifying any zoning issues.

5. Natural hazards Try to find out about hazards that may or may not be obvious. Is your neighborhood of choice:

  • On a flood plain?
  • In a weather conversion zone?
  • Over an earthquake fault?
  • In a wetland area?
  • In a potential wildfire zone?
  • Near a:
    • Super Fund site?
    • Solid waste landfill?
    • Leaking underground storage tank?

To check out these hazards and more, you may want to pay for a risk report.

In Your Own Back Yard

E In Your Own Back Yard

Make a list of all the things you want in a home. Be as specific as possible. It will save you time in your search for a new home.

Consider some of the following.

1. Think about what you want on the outside of your home.

  • Will it have a yard? If so, what size?
  • Do you want an established garden or a chance to create your own?
  • Do you want a garage? Attached? Detached? Two cars or three?

2. Think about what you want on the inside of your home.

  • How many bedrooms do you need?
  • How many bathrooms? (Not just for the immediate future, but also for those teenage years.)
  • What about a den or office? A guest room for grandma?
  • Do you want a basement or an attic?

Your real estate agent can help you find the perfect home once you determine what is important to you.

Mortgage Rates

The Loan Consultant feature determines the products and rates that match your needs.

Ready to Start?

To apply for your easy online loan, all you have to do is answer a few simple questions about yourself, your property and your income, debts and assets.