By Maryalene LaPonsie
NEW YORK (MoneyTalksNews) It seems like everyone gets new-house fever in the spring, but if you're serious about buying, prime time for making a purchase may be right around the corner instead.
Real estate site Trulia says house searches cool off in the fall and slow to a crawl in December. What does that mean for you? Less competition and more opportunities to score a deal on the house of your dreams.
But before you jump head first into a house search, check out what Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says every homebuyer should know. Watch the video below, then keep reading to learn more house buying tips.
Know what you need vs. what you want
Before you even think about hitting an open house, you need to know what you are looking for. Otherwise, you may find yourself falling in love with something impractical or, worse, sweet-talked by an agent into placing an offer on a home that doesn't fit your needs.
Start by sitting down with a pen and paper and your honey if you will be buying a house with one and write down two columns: "needs" and "wants."
Under needs, list your non-negotiables. For example, if you have a growing family, you may need three bedrooms, two baths and a fenced-in yard for the dog. Under wants, put your wish list. Maybe you crave a gourmet kitchen or a large master suite. These are things you can live without, but life would be nicer if you had them.
Armed with this information, you can quickly weed out the homes that don't meet your needs. Then you can focus on whittling down your short list to the ones with features on your wish list.
However, it goes without saying there is no perfect house and, especially if you don't have a lot of money to play with, you should be prepared to sacrifice some items on your want list in exchange for an otherwise serviceable house in your price range.