If there’s one show that I chain-watch the most, it’s “House Hunters.” Seeing hopeful would-be homeowners search for the property of their dreams gets me every time – and because of my obsessive watching, my husband is now hooked too.
In each episode of “House Hunters,” a person or couple looking to purchase a home meets with a real estate agent and offers a budget and a list of must-haves. The agent then takes the hunters to three different properties, where they have the opportunity to explore and discuss each one’s pros and cons. At the end, the hunters pick which house they want, and the audience is treated to a quick post-purchase update.
Whether it’s about setting the right budget or determining needs and wants, the home buyers on “House Hunters” can either set a shining example, or a cautionary tale. While I’ve lived in my home for about eight years – and don’t plan on moving anytime soon – I know that if and when the time arrives, I’ll be ready thanks to the lessons I’ve learned from “House Hunters.”
Home-Buying Lessons From “House Hunters”
Whether you’re in the market for a new home or you’re just curious about real estate, there’s a lot to learn from a 30-minute episode of “House Hunters.” By keeping some of the following tips in mind when you embark on your hunt, you just might score that happy ending in your own episode.
1. Agree on Your Budget
Your real estate agent uses a budget to narrow down your options, and if you’re hunting with a partner and you disagree on what you should spend, one of you is going to be set up for disappointment before you even set foot in a home. A good rule of thumb is to multiply your yearly household income by 2.5 – this should give you a conservative number you can afford.
Beyond that basic math, though, creating a house hunting budget requires two steps:
- Determine how much you’re comfortable spending each month by creating a budget based on your income, expenses, and debt. Don’t forget that in addition to your mortgage, you need to pay for property taxes, mortgage and home insurance, and maintenance and utility costs each month.
- Head to your bank and ask for a mortgage pre-approval amount. The bank takes the same debts, expenses, and assets into consideration, but also factors in your credit score when determining an amount that you can be pre-approved to spend.
Keep in mind that the bank might actually approve you for more than you expected – but don’t consider this permission to go over the budget you’ve set for yourself. Banks don’t factor in things like how much you put into savings each month, your discretionary expenses, or what you’re going to pay for utilities in your new place. Know what number you and your partner are comfortable with, even if the pre-approval amount comes back higher.