Buying Your Home

Shopping For a Home and Negotiating a Contract

Shopping for a home can be one of the most exciting and overwhelming times of your life. A home is one of the largest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime, yet the home shopping process can feel like a whirlwind. It’s important to come to the table prepared.

We will help you better understand neighborhoods in your price range, as well as the housing stock available. For example, the Midtown neighborhood might be predominantly condos, while the Third Ward is mostly single family homes. As you refine your housing choices, we’ll help you weigh considerations like:

  • Choosing a neighborhood.
  • Assembling your real estate team.
  • Submitting an offer and negotiating a deal.

Using data from dozens of sources, we’ll help you understand all of the details about Houston’s neighborhoods, and which one is the right investment for you.

Refine Your Neighborhood Before Picking Your Team

In previous sessions, you’ll have an idea of the Houston neighborhoods that fit your lifestyle. But before you pick a real estate agent and start looking at houses, you’ll want to refine your search even further. Oftentimes, real estate agents specialize in a particular neighborhood. So that means you need to start by refining your choices down to a couple of neighborhoods.

Start by driving through your neighborhoods during the day and at night, as well as on a weekday and on a weekend. Are they quiet or lively? Are people walking around, or is everyone in a vehicle? Are the houses mostly occupied? Are they cared for?

Next, start to get an idea of the resources available in your neighborhood. Is there a supermarket, laundromat, or dry cleaners? Are you close to bus or train stops? Are there restaurants or bars nearby? There is no perfect answer to any of these questions. It all depends on what kind of neighborhood you choose to live in.

There are also online resources that you can use to search crime statistics, sexual offender databases, traffic patterns and more. We will go over the variety of online tools you can use to better refine your neighborhood choice.

Meeting Agents Who Specialize in What You Want

Once you have narrowed down your search to one or two neighborhoods, it’s time to choose a real estate agent who will guide you through the shopping process. It’s important to choose an agent that you enjoy spending time with. They need to be knowledgeable about your neighborhood, and how prices have changed over the last few years. They should also know about the housing stock in your neighborhood, as well as resources to help you equip and maintain your home.

Meeting a real estate agent is easy. You can find them in a variety of ways:

  • Attend an open house for a home in your neighborhood and price range.
  • Find them through the HAR website.
  • Contact a major company (like Coldwell Banker or Remax) and ask for a specialist in your neighborhood.
  • Drive around your neighborhood and look at the "For Sale" signs.

Your goal shouldn’t be to find a real estate agent. It should be to find someone who has deep expertise in your neighborhood, and who will be a helpful guide throughout the homebuying process.

Getting the Best Deal for the Home You Want

For some people, negotiating the price of their home is the most exciting part of the process. For others, it’s the most intimidating. The actual cost of purchasing a home is complicated, with many items open for negotiation. We cover many of the standard areas, including:

  • Offering a lower purchase price based on comparable homes
  • Asking the seller to cover closing costs, which reduces your out-of-pocket expenses
  • Using your home inspection report to get the seller to address repairs or provide a credit
  • Monitoring the market and making an offer in line with the neighborhood trends

When you’re making an offer on a home, it’s important to know the condition of the home and any repairs that need to be addressed immediately. For example, a leaky roof can cost thousands of dollars to repair, but it can also lead to thousands of dollars of additional damage if it goes unaddressed.

A proper home inspection report will reveal these details, and you can ask the current homeowner to fix it or ask them to credit you the cost (either through a reduction in the purchase price or through closing costs).