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The Best Way to Buy Real Estate

Top tips for scoring your dream home.

A home is likely the biggest purchase you'll ever make, and, as such, most people enter into the transaction with some trepidation. What happens if the real estate bubble bursts? What happens if I lose my job? Are granite counters and wide-plank flooring going to look ridiculous a decade from now? While you can't anticipate changes in the real estate market or design trends, you can make the home buying process a whole lot easier.

Andrew Sandholm, a licensed real estate salesperson with BOND New York, says that managing your expectations is key to making the buying process easier and more expeditious. Sandholm says that this is especially important in urban markets where there's intense competition for housing. "A first-time homebuyer in Manhattan might be buying a 475-square-foot studio for $450,000—and that's not a joke—whereas you could buy a 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a pool in Mesa, Arizona for $190,000," says Sandholm. "You can't have it all. Not at this moment, anyway. And you shouldn't expect to."

With Sandolm's help, we've compiled the best real estate-buying tips to bear in mind when you're looking to score the home of your dreams. And once you've got your new digs, check out  these 30 Best Stylish Home Upgrades. 

Do Your Market Research—and Manage Your Expectations

A couple who just bought a new home.

In ultra-competitive markets of major cities, Sandholm says that even an overflowing bank account won't make finding a place that's entirely perfect possible. "Manhattan real estate is so incredible on so many levels that anyone, really, would be hard-pressed to find a property that has everything they're looking for. So, your expectation must be to find something that checks off most, but not all, of what's on your wish list."

While coming to terms with the fact that you may not find a home with everything you're looking for can be difficult, that doesn't mean you won't find something you love.

You Can't Always Get What You Want

New home buyer inspecting blueprint

"Consider what you value. Think about what you need in a home. And then we will find something within your price point that will be as close to that as possible," he recommends.

Don't Sweat the Décor

New home buyer painting her new home.

If your main complaints about a potential home are limited to its current décor, consider yourself lucky. Although staging can make a major difference in the feel of a home or apartment—and, as such, your willingness to buy it—you should do your best to look past it. Sandholm says that many sellers believe their home will appear larger or more desirable if they take their furniture out of it, a move that can turn off buyers. Fortunately, many of the issues that potential buyers bring up to brokers can be remedied in virtually no time.

You Can Turn Negatives into Positives

Home buyer painting her new home.

"If the seller has not prepared the home to be sold properly, buyers will struggle to see how negatives can be turned into positives," says Sandholm. "Low light? Remove those huge curtains hanging over the windows. Paint the walls a lighter color. Change the flooring from a dark stain to a lighter color. Hang mirrors to help lighten up the room. Just off the top of my head, I can list a half dozen remedies for a problem that often kills potential home sales." A little elbow grease can go a long way in turning that okay home into the one you've always wanted.

Don't Look Back

Home buyer holding his new keys.

Once you've found your dream home, it's your job to keep it safe. Knowing the 50 Deadliest Items in Your Home is a good place to start.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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