Keep these smart strategies mind when you’re looking at listings or heading to an open house.

By Sarah Yang
Updated July 27, 2017
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Shopping for a home can be a bit daunting, but the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, are here to help. The HGTV stars have teamed up with Chase and Google, who have released a “Search for Home Snapshot,” which looks at what people are searching for in order to find more information about homeownership. Potential homebuyers might turn to Google to learn about mortgages (the South leads the pack when it comes to who searches the most), different styles of homes (the top five searches on Google included mansions and yurts), and more common questions, but the Scott brothers have years of expertise, plus successful TV shows and a book under their belts to share their own secrets. Drew and Jonathan shared their best tips for making the home search and renovation process a little easier.

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Understand Your Budget.

Before you go to any open houses, make sure you know your budget limits and take into account any future life events that might affect your income. “A lot of people say they want to get out and look at houses, but they haven’t actually looked at what they can afford,” Drew says. “You need to look at your current and future income situation. If you know you’re going to have a baby in about six months, well there’s no sense in absolutely maxing yourself out now. Then you realize your life is going to get a lot more expensive once the baby comes and you can’t afford your bills because of the change in lifestyle.”

Pay Attention to New Homes.

“Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s problem-free,” Drew says. “There are a lot of communities where houses went up pretty fast, and some of the quality materials were cheapened out on, so make sure you understand what the neighborhood is and if there are any known issues in that neighborhood. Also, understand the quality of the builder and what kind of warranty they’re offering on everything.”

Know Your Materials.

Do some research into home building materials, so you’re knowledgeable when visiting and inspecting homes on the market. “Sometimes people will say ‘Look at this beautiful kitchen and these beautiful floors,’ not realizing that they’re the cheapest floors out there,” Jonathan says. “Then all of sudden they’re going to be trashed in a couple of months—so know the materials that are out there.”

Look at the Layout.

Don’t be deceived by appearances, especially when the home or a room has been recently renovated. “A lot of people will put a brand new kitchen into a terrible layout,” Jonathan says. “If you don’t change the layout to make it more functional, you’re not adding any value to the home, so you may wind up paying a premium for something that isn’t going to be functional at all. Make sure to step back and be unbiased on how functional the layout is instead of how pretty it is.”

Calculate the Cost of Renovations.

If you’re seriously considering buying a home that will need major renovations, get some estimates first so you won’t be surprised later on. “One of your conditions should be getting a couple of contractors in to quote all of the work,” Drew says. “If it turns out the work is going to cost way more than the house is worth or more than you have in your budget, then you know before you’ve even purchased it that it’s a no-go. Always look at the cost of the renovations you’re going to have to do as part of the purchase process.”