In our first article of Homebuying 101, we walked you through some of the key steps in getting ready to purchase a home. These included saving for the down payment, ensuring that your credit is in order and getting pre-approved for a loan so that you can make what, for most people, is the most expensive purchase of their lives: a home.

Now comes the fun part: shopping for that home!

Every day, Jovia works with members that are exactly where you are. We've got some great guidelines and tips on finding the right home and buying it at the best price possible so you can enjoy the home-shopping process rather than worry your way through what should be an exciting time in your life.

Ready to go shopping? Us, too. Let's get going.

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First things first, start look

The good news is that shopping for a new home is much easier than it used to be. With countless websites and smartphone apps fed by massive databases of homes for sale and equipped with powerful search and filtering functions, finding a good house in a good neighborhood is a breeze nowadays.

These digital tools hold an incredible amount of detail about not only each house on the market but price and sales histories, school ratings, price trends and much, much more. As you’re looking, bookmark the houses you want to visit for a closer look, but also keep detailed notes about what you like, changes in asking prices, information about taxes and homeowners’ fees and general market trends in specific neighborhoods.

Are prices going up or down? How long do houses stay on the market? How long has that house you have your eye on been on the market? Have the owners taken the house off the market in the past and put it back on the market recently? These sorts of trends and information can really help you know what a good price is and negotiate accordingly if trends are in your favor.

Once you know where you want to look and maybe even have spotted a few houses you must go see the house and the neighborhood. Visit schools, parks, retail stores, and restaurants and even pick up an edition of any local newspaper to see what’s been happening. Visit “Open Houses” even if you’re not that interested in a property; it might give you some ideas or alternatives as you continue to shop.

Next thing you will want to do is find a realtor.

Home buying is a complex process and most people choose to seek the help of a licensed real estate agent, often called a Realtor. Realtors can point you to houses that you might not have noticed, do in-depth background research that’s not available to you, pull selling prices of recently sold similar houses in the neighborhood, and help negotiate a price that works for both the buyer (you!) and seller alike.

As such, finding a Realtor is an important decision. Shop around for an agent you are comfortable with and can trust. Ask friends for recommendations or, if you are moving to a new area where you don’t know many people, do research online. To find realtors specifically on Long Island, use websites such as Lirealtor.com, mlsli.com, etc.

It’s important to note that there are different types of realtors. For example, there are buyer’s agents, seller’s (listing) agents and, less commonly, dual agents (who represent both the buyer and seller). As the buyer, you’ll want to have someone who not only understands the home-buying process, but someone whom you can trust will be advocating for you and not the seller. Therefore, it’s advisable that you seek out a buyer’s agent. Make sure this agent isn’t charging you for their services. Don’t worry, these agents aren’t working for free. The common practice in these relationships is that the listing agent charges the seller a commission (let’s say 6%) for selling their home and then splits this commission with the buyer’s agent for bringing him or her the business.

Agents are important partners when buying or selling a home as they can provide you with helpful information on homes and neighborhoods that isn’t easily accessible to the public. Their knowledge of the home buying process, negotiating skills, and familiarity with the area you desire to live in can be extremely valuable.

Best news of all, when you are buying a house, there is no cost to you for using a Realtor. They are compensated through commission paid by the seller.