How do I buy a house?
Dave, this is a bit offbeat, but i want to know how do i go about buying a house. can you help me out?
Actually, I have bought two houses in the last eight years, so I think that I can help you out, even though this is a pretty unusual question for us to get here at Ask Dave Taylor. What I like about this, though, is that it fits in well with a presentation I made to a Realtor conference that explored how modern Internet technologies are making real estate agents obsolete in many ways.
The first threat to the modern realtor is that us consumers can now use tools like Zillow to (roughly) ascertain the going price of different houses on a given street. For example, when we lived in the Santa Cruz mountains, we knew our house was pretty valuable, but when we went to buy it, we had no data other than what our real estate agent told us about comparables and estimated valuation upon which to decide if it was a good deal or not.
Today if I were considering buying a house, I'd investigate the street and neighborhood on Zillow:
Now, I don't know how accurate this data is, but it's sure interesting to see the approximate value of the different houses in that neighborhood, a capability that's traditionally only been accessible to realtors.
But figuring out the value of a given house is just part of the job, of course. The greater task is finding a property in the first place, and that's where the many different real estate database sites can come in value. From Craigslist to the local paper, if there's a house on the market, it's a good bet that it's going to be something you can stumble across and find online.
Remember that you also have to be able to qualify for a mortgage or mortgage loan too: many people find that renting a house or apartment while they save up so that they don't have painfully large mortgage payments is a far smarter way to get started.
As CNN/Money suggests:
There are, of course a ton of other things to know about when you're buying a house. There are a lot of good books on this subject too. A quick glance at Amazon offers How to Buy Your First Home, How to Buy and Sell Your Home Without Getting Ripped Off and How To Buy A Home.
Between those and the many more you can find in the Dummies and Complete Idiot's series, among others, I'm sure you can get a good start on your house hunt. Good luck!
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