Looking for a house to buy? You know you've got to sort through all those real-estate listings now, and that can be quite a project. But you can make things go more smoothly if you are on the lookout for certain issues and approach the listings a certain way. Stay alert and get help with the listings, and you'll be able to find your house more quickly.
Look Out for Key Phrases
It's no secret that house listings are going to have some creative language; most people know to decipher words like cozy to mean small. But Zillow warns that the language can often be tricky because of dual meanings, one meaning that most people use and another that real-estate agents use. One example Zillow gives is "state of the art"; to most people, this would mean technologically up to date, but in real estate, it's a specific term referring to homes built in the 1980s. Be on the lookout for language like this and research any descriptive terms to ensure you know whether you're interpreting them correctly.
Always Look for Specifics
Along with decoding euphemisms, look for specifics. Don't settle for vague wording (like older); find out when the house was built, how many people have owned it, whether it's ever been through major damage, whether that second bedroom is actually a den without a closet or a real door, and so on. Space considerations and word limits in listings can often require slightly more general wording, but you should still have a good idea of the basics after reading the ad. For example, there's a big difference between a house described as a cool twentieth-century structure and one that is midcentury modern. The Zillow article referred to above describes "midcentury modern" as a style from the 1950s and 1960s, specifically.
Work with an Agent
Even if you're scouring all the listing services for your dream home—and you should, if you can get access—work with a real-estate agent. The agent will have access to some listings, and your scouting about will help you find more homes for sale. A good agent can protect you from some real problem houses. He or she may know the history of a house and be able to tell you about disclosures that make you want to look elsewhere, for example.
Talk to real-estate agents and find out what listing services they use. Discuss with them what you want to find and how the two of you can best partner up to find a great home for you.
Visit sites such as http://www.winterparkluxury.com/ to start looking at listings.