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How to Prepare for the House-Hunt

Right At Home Daily: Finding It: House-Hunting
By Lisa Skolnik for Right at Home Daily

Looking for a new home can become a time consuming and overwhelming experience that'll test your patience. The hours and homes can quickly blur into one hazy memory.

Here's how to optimize your house hunting hours and make the process manageable and memorable.

Choosing the right Neighborhood1. Create a wish list: Write down your housing wants and needs. Include all the physical characteristics you want or need, such as style, size, layout and room configuration, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the basic amenities you must have (e.g., central air, fireplace, basement or yard).

Include critical features such as location and services (a home's proximity to good schools or public transportation lines). This list will help you weed out homes that don't match your criteria, and it'll serve as a guideline for your broker (give him or her a copy).

2. Use the Web: Most national real estate chains have a Web site that offers tons of information about their listings and the various cities and towns where they are located. You can find Web addresses in a local paper's real estate section or call local agents directly.

Visit the major online listing services such as HomeAdvisor.com and Realtor.com. The International Real Estate Digest (ired.com) lists thousands of real estate related sites.

3. Keep a journal: To avoid attending a second showing at the wrong house and to eliminate unsuitable homes, record your activities. Make notes on the listing sheet and take pictures to populate your journal. Or, consider recording (digitally or on a video tape, but ask permission first) your walk through a house.

TAKE IT AND RUN:
Make a checklist that'll include your wants and needs. This list will help you be objective in your search.

Start your house hunt online. Tons of real estate Web sites offer more information than you can possibly use. Start at a real estate portal like HomeScape.com, HomeAdvisor.com, or Realtor.com.

Keep a journal of your visits to remember what you've seen.

To see everything that's on the market, you'll have to get out from behind your computer and walk or drive through the neighborhood(s).

Hammer Get some help advice from other home owners about buying a new house.