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At what point should I start touring homes?

I want to move in December 2009.
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February 11 2009 - Germantown
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Look now, but I would wait until Fall to tour them.

In my market I expect prices to drop a bit over 30% between now and December so if I want to spend $300k, I should be looking at what $425-$450k gets me today.   Touring those homes is not realistic because who is to say that those are the houses that will be on the market then.    I don't want to take up much of my Realtor's time knowing that nobody is going to take my offer today.  If they would, I offered too much. 

Looking at listings online, driving neighborhoods, peeking around empty ones, dropping in on open houses... fine.  I just don't want to irritate my agent.  She doesn't get paid until I buy, which means she won't get a check for over a year.   If I toured just two homes a month with her it would add up to about 50 hrs of work for her before I was even really serious.   I'll wait until I am serious, then not feel guilty for being picky.
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February 11 2009
I would take Mark75NYC's warning of the snowball affect.

But, there's nothing wrong with doing a little research ahead of time.  You could drive through neighborhoods, find out what you'll prequalify for, and get an idea of exactly what you want.  Maybe go to some open houses or have an agent show you some properties.  If you do have an agent show you homes, please be loyal to that agent.  They don't get paid unless you actually buy something.

If you're not going to buy until December you
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February 11 2009
Profile picture for Mark75NYC

Don't start touring houses until October/November.  For now, get to know different areas/towns you'll be looking in, and use the internet to get a general idea of what prices are going for.  Then you'll be informed if and when you decide to buy at the end of the year.

Take your time.  Once you start looking "just to see" the snowball effect seems to take place and things can move faster than you intended.

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February 11 2009
 
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