Every house hunter has a story – and a real estate lesson they learned along the way. Nothing proves this point better than BMO’s recent Great House Hunter Contest . While the contest is said and done – it ended on October 10 – there is still plenty to learn from the finalists’ stories:

When hunting for the perfect house, never underestimate the valuable role friends and family can play. While you likely don’t want 17 members of your extended family trailing behind as you tour potential dream homes, they can be an incredible resource in locating said dream house.

If you are making an offer on a home and appliances are to be included, make sure to write down the make, model, and serial number of the appliance(s) and/or take pictures of them. It’ll come in handy to ensure that the item that is supposed to be there when you take possession of the home is the one that you saw when you made the offer. Also include that information in the offer to purchase so that everyone is aware of the details of what is to be left.

Look at a lot of houses, even ones that you aren’t interested in so you can get a feel for certain features. You can never really judge a house by simply looking at the listing information.

When buying your house, don’t think you can do all the renovations yourself and juggle everything else. I fell into that trap. We lived in a construction zone for six months until I ended up hiring a contractor to complete the rest of my work. While doing it yourself can save you a lot of money, it can add a lot of stress as well. Start with small projects before going onto the big ones!

Get a feel for the market in the area that you targeting. This can be easily accomplished in part by looking onto MLS. However MLS shows the asking price, not the final sale prices. They often differ. Are your expectations in line with your finances?