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Helping clients find the right home is crucial since it’s one of the most important decisions they’ll ever make.

So, recommend these seven house-hunting to ensure they stay focused and on budget:

1. Establish goals. Whether they’re searching for a dream house or upgrading their current digs, make sure they understand their intentions clearly from the get-go. This will eliminate wasted time and confusion.

2. Create a wish list. Tell them to start by listing all of the additional features and amenities they expect from the property. Differentiating between must-haves and nice-to-haves will narrow down their search field.

3. Hire a real estate agent. Agents understand the intricacies and risks of a local housing market due to their years of experience.

4. Get pre-approved. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will set their budget straight off. This eliminates overspending and the disappointment of learning they haven’t saved for the home they’ve been coveting.

Read: Help clients save for major purchases

5. Ask questions, take notes. Tell them to ensure you have no lingering questions about the property, mortgage financing terms or anything extra that could lead to regret down the line. Also, writing down important notes means they won’t confuse concerns and questions after seeing multiple properties.

6. Do some recon work: Hanging around the house they want during different times of the day is key. They can check out when the area is noisiest and find out if traffic is a nightmare, for instance. They have to like the house and neighbourhood.

7. Look for hidden expenses: Investigate more than the house to uncover any potential money traps. For example, they should find out when the home’s appliances, water heater and roof were last replaced to avoid expensive surprises.

Also read:

Rookie mistakes of homebuyers

Canadian housing to hold steady in 2013

U.S. housing market ticks higher

Can a house be a retirement plan?

Originally published on Advisor.ca