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11 Surprising Things You Probably Didn't Know About Buying Your First Home

In some states, it's required that they tell you if the house is haunted.

1. Never just randomly pick the first real estate agent you meet.

Don't just go with your cousin because she begged you. There's a lot to consider when choosing an agent. It's recommended that you interview at least three before selecting the one who's best for you.

2. Get a CLUE (report). / Via

The Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (or CLUE) is a free database that lists every insurance loss filed for a home over a seven-year period. It could help you avoid buying a home that's uninsurable.

3. Determine your deal breakers ahead of time and then stick to them.

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For example, if you hate commuting, then don't get a place far from work. Studies have found that people with longer commutes tend to be less happy than those with shorter commutes.

4. Your down payment may not be as much as you think.

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Nearly 70% of renters cite the down payment as the biggest inhibitor to home ownership. While most loans require a 20% down payment, that is not your only option! There are certain programs that can help you get a home loan with down payments as low as 0%–3.5% if you qualify!

5. Perform a land survey.

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Most areas in the US require this step in the home-buying process — and with very good reason. A land survey definitively determines the actual property lines so you know what you're getting, unlike this man who discovered he didn't actually own the house he "bought."

6. Know when to be flexible and when not to be.

Don't get hung up on superficial flaws like peeling paint or a neon bathroom. Instead, be concerned about big-ticket items like poor plumbing and wiring, which you could end up regretting.

7. Usually the seller pays the commission, not the buyer.

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A common misconception is that the buyer pays the agent's commission, but that is often not the case. Typically the seller pays the Realtor commission fee, which is always negotiable and often in the 6% range.

8. It takes time to find the right spot.

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors, the average home buyer viewed a median of 10 homes and spent 10 weeks searching. So don't get discouraged if you can't find something immediately!

9. Research zoning ahead of time.

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Planning to add on a guest house one day? Dreaming of owning a boat? Want to do something as small as paint your future house the perfect color? It's always best to check local zoning rules and Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) for your area so you know what you're allowed and not allowed to do on a property before you buy.

10. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

While it varies from state to state, there often are disclosures that sellers are obligated to make. For instance, in Arizona, they must tell you if there has been an investigation into a haunting on a property.

11. Everyone's process and experience are different.

One guy started with a red paperclip and traded up until he got a house. This might not be your journey, but no two are ever alike.

Don't worry. The home-buying process is fun, exciting, and full of surprises. Take the journey with a RE/MAX real estate agent.