Shopping for a new home is not a matter to take lightly, and it may be more complicated than you might think. It is easy to jump right in and start looking for gorgeous homes that you can easily imagine yourself living in, but this is not always the best strategy. Your new home will affect your lifestyle, your daily living experience, your budget, your exposure to crime and traffic and much more. You can see that you cannot afford to make a hasty or poor decision when selecting your new home. As you begin reviewing online listings and touring different homes for sale, turn your attention to these important aspects so that you make a solid decision that provides you and your family with years of enjoyment.
1. A Desirable Location
When a real estate agent asks a home buyer what location he or she is looking in, common responses may include a broad sector of a huge metro area or a sizable suburb. Keep in mind that property tax rates, insurance rates, crime rates, school quality, HOA rules and more vary from community to community. In fact, you can have large variations in each of these areas by comparing two neighborhoods that are side by side. In addition to focusing on these factors, the location should be appealing for your lifestyle, your personality and other factors. Commute time and proximity to stores, parks and healthcare services should also be considered.
2. The Right Sales Price
Many buyers today take the important first step of getting prequalified for a mortgage, and many of these individuals are floored when they are prequalified for a rather sizable loan amount. However, understand that the lender has determined the maximum amount that they will lend to you rather than the maximum amount that is affordable for your budget. In many instances, these are two very different figures. Consider that a lender will not review your healthcare expenses, your regular lifestyle or entertainment expenses, your clothing budget, childcare expenses and more. While you should get prequalified for a home loan before seriously looking at homes for sale, you also need to find a sales price and a mortgage payment amount that are manageable for your financial situation.
3. A Functional, Practical Floorplan
Once you begin touring homes, you may walk into several that are absolutely stunning. They may have upgraded features, historic charm or exceptional staging. It may be easy to imagine yourself living in this space, but the unfortunate reality is that many beautiful homes are not practical for your needs. Before you begin touring homes, create a list of criteria that you need the space to have. This may include different types of rooms, room dimensions, garage space, a specific design, interior and exterior materials and more. Use this list to guide you. In fact, you may even avoid looking at homes that fail to meet all of your needs so that you make a smart buying decision.
4. Good Quality and Condition
Ordering a home inspection is not usually required, but it is almost imperative if you want to avoid buying a home with known, substantial defects and damages. A home inspection costs time and money, and it is not usually ordered until you have an accepted sales contract with the seller. You may be able to do a cursory inspection on your own as you walk through a home. Look for things like water spots or stains, warped or cracked drywall, pest damage, dry rot, windows and doors that do not open and close easily, excessively dirty air vents, significant cracks in concrete and more. It is also wise to look at the condition of cosmetic features. For example, will you need to replace carpeting or refinish the floors soon? Are the appliances that are included in the sale newer and in good condition?
5. The Land
You understandably may be focused intently on choosing a property in a desirable location with an appealing layout and style. However, you are also buying the land that the property sits on, and land has many different characteristics that could make it more or less appealing. For example, if the land grades toward the house, you may face foundation issues related to erosion or even potential floods in the future. Trees located close to the house can be appealing and provide shade, but they can also lead to roof damage. They also can allow rodents to more easily get into the home through the roof.
As important as it is to find a beautiful home that instills pride of ownership from day one, you also need the home to be practical, functional and well-maintained. You can see that many factors must be carefully analyzed before you finalize your decision to make an offer. In addition, after an offer is accepted, use your contingency period to continue to research facts about the house that may impact your decision to move forward with the sale. By walking through these important steps, you can make a thoughtful, informed decision that provides you with many years of enjoyment.