It’s Not Too Early to Think About Buying a Home

February 15, 2011
It’s February, Tax season, and not too early to think about buying a home.  Industry experts will tell you that December is the best time to buy a house and spring is the worst.  That may be, but many of us have kids in school and realistically, we are going to want to make the big move during the summer.  So, February is a great time to begin formulating a plan of action.  Between now and when the daffodils begin their reach to the first rays of spring sunlight, check out places that are already on the market.  Get an idea of where you’d like to live and when you are ready to, consider the following: 

Hiring a home inspector. A home inspection provides interested buyers with a clear understanding of the physical structure and mechanical condition of a home. The inspector identifies any problems and needed repairs, and may provide preventive maintenance advice. A home inspection could make the difference between buying a house, passing on it, or negotiating a lower price. One place to check out prospective inspectors is at the American Society of Home Inspectors. The organization requires a code of ethics and standards of practice.  You should also check with your BBB to check out the complaint history of any potential Home Inspector/service. 
Looking for a real estate agent.  Ask neighbors, friends and coworkers for recommendations. A good real estate agent knows the area, has good resources and contacts, and understands your needs and concerns. Interview several agents and check for complaints with the BBB.

Finding good schools. Many families want to buy a house in a good school district. Realtors often have school information, but you can also check out these sites for updated information on schools:  the U.S. Department of Education’s web site; Standard & Poor’s School Matters; and  For information on Department of Defense schools, go to the Department of Defense Education Activity site

Locating a safe neighborhood.  Here are a few sites that may be helpful.  Family Watchdog, a nationwide sex-offender registry, allows you to search by street address. Home Fair has information on local property crime risk and personal crime risk and how they compare with national statistics.  The Census Bureau provides community demographics.  Click on “Find An Area Profile.”
Other helpful sites. For home buying and ownership tips visit these websites: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Freddie Mac.