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Congratulations! You’re ready to buy a home! There are so many joys that come with home ownership, from creating lifelong memories to establishing community; this is an exciting time for you and your family. Unfortunately, these benefits can get lost in the challenging process of finding, and purchasing, the perfect house. Below are some helpful hints for removing some of the stress from the home buying experience.  1. Attend a First-time Home Buyer’s Seminar Whether you ask for it or not, everyone you talk to is going to offer their advice on home buying. So why not hear what the professionals have to say? First-time home buyer’s seminars are offered by a variety of organizations, including universities, nonprofits, and city housing departments. While they will all be different, the seminars are likely to cover tips on shopping for a home, financing, and hiring a realtor. Many of the seminars are free so you have nothing to lose!    2. Prioritize Your Needs and Wants While we all want a home that checks everything off our list, we know that realistically we’ll need to give something up. Our priorities, however, can get lost after we’ve seen a few houses and have become inundated with information. That’s why it’s important to make a prioritized list of needs and wants. Don’t forget to include things like the commute, school system, and neighborhood. It might be helpful to have your list with you as you tour each house so you aren’t distracted by nice-to-have amenities.  3. Visit the Neighborhood at Different Times of the Day You’ll probably be doing most of your house shopping during the day and over the weekend. For the houses that you really like, it’s worth going back at various times of the day and days of the week so you can get a better idea of the neighborhood.  It’s also a good idea to give your commute a few practice runs. While the realtor may be able to give you an idea of how long it will take, you’ll get a better feel for it by driving the route yourself.    4. Be Present It’s important to be involved in all aspects of the home buying experience so that you can see things first hand and stay informed.  Take the home inspection, for example. While you’ll receive a report after the inspection is complete, it’s not the same as walking the house with the inspector. By being there, you’re able to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the major and minor issues.  5. Negotiate After the Inspection Inspections can bring to light a variety of issues, both large and small. Once these problems are identified, it’s important to decide how you want to move forward, as these can be used in negotiating. If there’s a leaky kitchen faucet, which you were planning on replacing anyway, you may choose not to ask for anything. But if the inspector finds, for example, that the hot water heater needs to be upgraded immediately, you may want to ask the sellers to replace it or lower the asking price. Don’t be afraid to ask for something in return for these issues; it’s a standard practice in home buying.  While the process can be stressful, when you sign your name and hold that key, it will all be worth it.

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