JoAnn Asselin | Westfield Real Estate, Agawam Real Estate, West Springfield Real Estate


House hunting can be time-consuming. With so many houses currently on the market and so little time to spend visiting homes, it’s important to narrow down your search as much as possible before attending a showing.

Fortunately, in today’s digital world, it’s possible to learn a great deal of important information right from your phone or computer.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you some advice on researching the homes you’re thinking about making an offer on. We’ll talk about researching the neighborhood, and--of course--the house itself.

Putting together all the stats on the home

Let’s start with, arguably, the most important thing to research: the house itself. When you want to learn about a home, the best place to look is usually the real estate listing. Since most of us discover homes through listings, odds are you’re already on this page. However, there’s a lot of information in a listing, so take the time to go through it and gleam whatever you can from the home’s description.

Next, Google the house address and click on listings from other real estate sites. Oftentimes, a house that has been sold before will have multiple listings across the internet with different data.

Once you’ve scoured the listings, head over to the county assessor’s website to look at records of the home’s ownership. This will tell you who bought and sold the home and when. There’s much you can learn from this data, especially if a home is being sold frequently. You can also use this information to contact previous owners to ask them questions about the home that the current owner might not know the answer to.

Snooping around the neighborhood

If the house is nearby, simply driving through the neighborhood can tell you a lot. You can visit the neighborhood during rush hour to see what the traffic is like, for example.

However, it isn’t always practical to take the time to visit a house that you aren’t sure you’re interested in. So, what’s the next best thing? Google Maps.

Visit the neighborhood on Google Maps to see what’s in the area. Are there a lot of closed businesses? That could be a sign of a neighborhood in decline. Check for nearby things like parks, grocery stores, and other amenities that could influence your buying decision.

Next, use Google’s “street view” feature and explore the neighborhood. You can see what kind of shape the other homes are in, and find out the condition of infrastructure like roads and sidewalks.

Note addresses of comparable homes in the neighborhood and look up their purchase prices. This will give you an idea of whether the home is being priced appropriately.

If you’re having trouble finding information on a home, such as sale records, try contacting the local assessor. They should be able to point you to a database that will help you in your search.


If you are in hot pursuit of your dream home, it is important to do everything you can to gain a leg up on the competition. That way, you can acquire your ideal residence as quickly as possible.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you gain a competitive advantage over your homebuying rivals.

1. Keep Track of the Local Housing Market

The top houses sell immediately, and as such, you may need to act fast to find and purchase your dream residence. If you keep track of the local housing market, however, you will be better equipped than other buyers to instantly acquire a house that suits you perfectly.

Monitor the housing market in cities and towns where you want to reside. Then, if you find a house you may want to buy, don't hesitate to set up a showing. And if you like what you see, you should submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Entering the housing market with pre-approval for a mortgage usually is a good idea. Because if you know how much you can spend on a residence, you can tailor your house search accordingly.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. Find out what mortgage options are available, and learn how different types of home financing work. Next, you can select a mortgage that enables you to begin your house search with a budget in hand.

Of course, if you have any concerns or questions about home financing, you should address them right away. If you speak with mortgage specialists at a bank or credit union, you can get the insights you need to make an informed mortgage selection.

3. Employ a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a difference-maker, particularly for a homebuyer who is shopping for a residence in a fierce housing market. Typically, a real estate agent will work with a buyer to craft an in-depth property buying strategy. A real estate agent and homebuyer then will work together to put this plan into action and streamline the property buying journey.

In addition, a real estate agent offers guidance at each stage of the homebuying cycle. He or she first will help you hone your home search to a select group of cities and towns. A real estate agent next will keep you informed about houses that become available that match your homebuying criteria. If you find a house you want to purchase, a real estate agent will help you submit an aggressive property buying proposal. And if your offer to buy a home is accepted, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to finalize your house purchase.

As you get ready to pursue your dream residence, you should devote plenty of time and resources to prepare. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can prep for the homebuying journey, gain a competitive advantage over rival buyers and accelerate your house search.


For those who want to acquire a stellar house at a budget-friendly price, it pays to work with a diligent real estate agent. In fact, some of the top reasons to hire a diligent real estate agent include:

1. A diligent real estate agent knows all about the housing market.

Are you still unsure about what differentiates a buyer's market from a seller's market? No worries, as a diligent real estate agent can teach you everything you need to know about the housing market.

A diligent real estate agent will dedicate the necessary time and resources to help you become an informed home shopper. That way, you can enter the real estate market with the support and insights that you need to succeed.

Also, a diligent real estate agent is ready to respond to any homebuying concerns and questions. This housing market professional can serve as an expert homebuying resource who can help you achieve the best possible results during the property buying journey.

2. A diligent real estate agent can help you establish realistic homebuying expectations.

Although it may seem simple to look at houses and find one that can serve you well for years to come, the property buying process may prove to be much more complex than you initially thought. However, a diligent real estate agent can help you map out your homebuying journey so you can avoid potential hurdles along the way.

For example, a diligent real estate agent may encourage you to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Because, with a mortgage in hand, you can begin your home search with a clear understanding of how much money you can spend on a house.

A diligent real estate agent may ask you to differentiate between "must-haves" and "wants" for your dream residence. And with a homebuying checklist in hand, you can narrow your home search and accelerate your quest for the perfect residence.

3. A diligent real estate agent can help you handle homebuying negotiations.

Let's face it – homebuying negotiations can be tricky, particularly if you're forced to work with a stubborn home seller. But with a diligent real estate agent at your side, you can get the assistance you need to purchase your dream house at your ideal price.

A diligent real estate agent can negotiate with a home seller on your behalf and keep you up to date at each stage of a negotiation. Then, as homebuying negotiations progress, a diligent real estate agent will be able to offer tips and guidance to help you make informed decisions.

In addition, a diligent real estate agent can help you minimize stress throughout homebuying negotiations. If these negotiations become too stressful, a diligent real estate agent will do everything possible to help you stay calm, cool and collected as well.

If you're planning to buy a home in the near future, hiring a diligent real estate agent is a must. This housing market professional will do what it takes to ensure you can purchase a wonderful residence that matches or exceeds your expectations.


The homebuying process may prove to be challenging, particularly for individuals who fail to anticipate potential problems. Lucky for you, we're here to help you identify and address homebuying hurdles before they escalate.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to ensure you can seamlessly anticipate and overcome homebuying hurdles.

1. Learn About the Housing Market

The real estate market can be complex. Fortunately, an informed homebuyer should have no trouble resolving potential problems early in the property buying journey.

Examine a wide range of housing market data – you'll be glad you did. Look at the prices of recently sold houses – as well as the prices of available residences – in your preferred cities and towns. With this housing market information, you'll be better equipped than ever before to differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one and plan your homebuying journey accordingly.

2. Get Home Financing

If you intend to pursue a house, you likely will need a mortgage. Thankfully, banks and credit unions are available to help you obtain a mortgage in no time at all.

Ultimately, it helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you enter the housing market with a mortgage in hand, you can narrow your house search to properties that fall within your price range. And as a result, you could speed up the process of finding and buying your dream house.

When you meet with lenders, don't hesitate to ask lots of questions, either. If you allocate time and resources to learn about all of your home financing options, you can determine exactly which option is right for you.

3. Employ a Real Estate Agent

There is no need to pursue a house on your own, regardless of whether you're an experienced or first-time property buyer. But if you employ a real estate agent, you can work with a homebuying expert who can help you make your homeownership dream come true.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to find a great house at an affordable price. He or she can teach you about the housing market and help you make informed decisions at each stage of the property buying journey. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can prepare you for potential homebuying hurdles and ensure you can quickly address these issues.

Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent provides as the homebuying journey progresses as well. A real estate agent will set up home showings, help you weigh the pros and cons of different houses and ensure you can submit an offer to purchase your dream residence. And as you approach the date of your home closing, a real estate agent will offer tips and recommendations to ensure you can finalize your house purchase without delay.

Want to avoid homebuying hurdles? You're not alone. But with the aforementioned tips, you can identify and overcome various homebuying hurdles and effortlessly navigate the property buying journey.


Buying a home will likely be one of the largest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. While this may seem scary at first, it’s worth noting that buying a home can also be a valuable financial investment.

When it comes to preparing to buy a home, many people just wait until they run out of room in their apartment before deciding that they need to upgrade to a home. A better approach, however, would be to start planning for your first home a year or more in advance.

Saving for a down payment is a vital step to making the best long-term financial decision. A larger down payment can help you pay off your home sooner, pay thousands or tens of thousands less in interest, and start using your home equity as an asset.

But, saving for a down payment is easier said than done. So, in this post, we’re going to talk about some of the ways you can aggressively save for a down payment so that, when the time comes, you can achieve long-term financial security from your investment.

Setting your savings goals

The first thing you should be thinking about when saving for a down payment is what your goals are in a home. Setting realistic goals in this phase will make saving for your down payment more feasible and less discouraging.

Think about what you really need from a home at this point in your life and compromise where you can.

Remember that on top of your monthly mortgage payments, you’ll likely also be paying for taxes, insurance, utilities, homeowners association fees, and more.

Save on a timeline

When setting your savings goal, make sure you’re aware of the timeframe you’re working with. If you want to buy a home next year, you’ll need to focus on short-term savings options. However, if you’re okay with renting for the next 5 years, investing your money could be a better option.

Lock away your savings

Treat your down payment savings like an emergency fund. Open a separate account, automatically deposit a portion of your pay into the account, and never withdraw from it. To do this, you will, of course, need to already have an emergency fund with a month’s expenses in it.

However, once you’ve established your emergency fund, start immediately depositing into your savings account.

Pay off credit cards

It may seem like saving for a down payment is more pressing than paying off old debt. However, the numbers will show that making interest payments on your credit cards is essentially throwing away money that could have been used toward your down payment savings.

Adjust your spending habits

While it isn’t easy to start spending less once you’ve built a standard of living, there are ways to spend less money and still lead a fulfilling life. Think about where your money goes each month, including bills and services you might pay for.

Now could be the best time to cut the cord and start using a service like Hulu to save $50 or more each month.

Time for a raise?

If it’s been some time since your last pay raise, now could be an ideal time to speak with your employer. To improve your chances of success, don’t discuss reasons outside of work that might be influencing your decision to ask for a raise (such as saving for a down payment). Rather, back up your request with evidence of your accomplishments at work.