Buying a home can seem overwhelming, but that can be helped by going in armed with knowledge, a clear picture of what you want, and, most importantly, patience.

First, choose a realtor. Take the time to meet with a few because they’ll often want a firm exclusive commitment in writing before they take you around. Ask them about their philosophy toward finding a home and the neighborhood they have sold in the most. Try to sense if this is someone you can sit with in a car for the miles you’ll log together. Sometimes how you feel about a house can be colored by how you feel about your guide.

Picked one? OK, don’t forget to take a notebook with you as you go around. You may think you’ll remember every inch of these beautiful homes, but after ten properties, they can all start to blend together. Remember, it’s rare to find the perfect home, so have a good picture going in on what are deal-breakers and what are just annoyances.

There are also key Texas questions you may not find yourself as concerned about in most other states. One is a lot of fun: the pool. If you don’t want the cost and time of taking care of one yourself, a homeowners association pool may come with your area (many times these pools can even feel like your own if it’s for a small enough amount of streets). Find out how close it is, as proximity is key to how often you will use it. If it doesn’t require you to get in your car, that’s a plus. If you want the pool at the house, an inspector who specializes in this is paramount. Few words make a bank account cry more than resurfacing (and it’s highly recommended you have an inspector for the house overall.).

Next, find out when the roof was last replaced. Roofs are one of the highest costs for a house as they typically need replacing every 15 to 20 years in the Lone Star State because of weather conditions. You may at least be able to ask for more money to be taken off the price if it’s more than a few years old. Remember, even if it’s in perfect shape, home insurers may charge four-figures extra a year in premiums in anticipation of it going.

Texas also has its share of fencing. Styles have changed greatly in the last few years and the next version you’d want may cost several thousand dollars or more. If a few of the pickets look like they’re starting to go that also can potentially lead to money being taken off the selling price—if you mention it.

In terms of mortgages, being pre-approved can be a huge advantage and for some houses on the market it may be mandatory. Think of this sooner rather than later. With mortgage rates averaging at roughly 3.75 percent at the time of this article for a 30-year (and 2.99 percent for a 15-year), this is one of the best times in a long time to buy a home—lucky you!

But, no matter what, be willing to walk away. Housing may be the largest investment you ever make, you should feel good about the purchase. Fortunately, there are great properties to choose from in Fort Worth.

Finally, if you do find your real estate dream, ask your realtor about the necessary steps to set up your house as your homestead—and then do it if it qualifies. This could have multiple benefits, often slightly lowering your property taxes or maybe even protecting you from losing your home in certain financial situations.

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