Considerations While Searching for a New Home
Are you ready to get started?! Once you've determined that you are ready to purchase a home, there are few things as exciting as searching for just the right property to call your own.
Remember, shopping for a home is a process that, whenever possible, should not be rushed. Make sure that you perform adequate research on the area, neighborhoods and the homes available on the market before you buy. You should do your best to look carefully and, whenever possible, try not to let your emotions make your final decision.
I will help to provide you with additional information on areas that are attractive to you, as well as schedule times for you to preview any properties that may be of interest.
Visiting Open Homes
An open house can be an opportunity for you to get information about homes and the housing market. Open houses are a common real estate practice because they give an agent the opportunity to market the home and to meet prospective buyers. It's fine to visit Open Homes without your agent representing you, but make sure to tell the agent holding the open house you are already working with an agent.
Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- Are you the listing agent for this house? Busy agents sometimes arrange for a colleague or assistant to conduct the open house. Don’t assume the person showing the home is knowledgeable about the house or has met the sellers.
- How long has the home been on the market? Well-priced homes in good condition generally sell in a short period of time. Unless the local market is weak, you will want to know why a particular home is not selling. Are there hidden defects? Is it overpriced? Are the sellers requiring something that may seem unreasonable as a condition of the sale?
- Have the sellers received any offers? If the sellers rejected offers that were too low or had contingencies or conditions, you should find out before you experience the same.
- Is any furniture or fixturing being sold with the house? If you’re thinking of buying the home, there is no better time to ask whether the seller would be interested in including the patio furniture or the dining room chandelier.
- Are there any special costs attached to the property? Is there a homeowner’s association that has dues or fees? Are there particular tax assessments? Are there any natural hazard issues to be aware of? Are there any hidden costs of owning the home?
- How does this house compare to others on this street? The local agent may be able to speak about recent sales in the neighborhood as well as some interior ideas seen in other homes.
Using A Property Checklist
When searching for a home, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with information and to forget the details of each particular home you’ve viewed - that’s why I’ve created this list to help you keep track of all the information you need to help you in this important decision.
When you view a home, keep in mind this checklist:
- Is there enough room for both the present and the future?
- Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms?
- Is the house structurally sound?
- Do the mechanical systems and appliances work?
- Is the yard big enough?
- Do you like the floor plan?
- Will my furniture fit in the space? Is there enough storage space? (Bring a tape measure to better answer these questions.)
- Does anything need to repaired or replaced? Will the seller repair or replace the items?
- Imagine the house in good weather and bad, and in each season. Will you be happy with it year round?
- Take your time and think carefully about each house you see. Ask your agent to point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint.
- There isn't a set number of houses you should see before you decide. Just be sure to communicate often with your agent about everything you're looking for. It will help focus the search.
- Take detailed notes, take pictures, and make a video – anything to help you remember as much as you can. (Be sure to first secure the permission of the owner before photographing or taking video, though.)
- If the owner or the owner’s agent is present during your viewing of the home, don’t say too much about your likes or dislikes.
- Which items require ongoing maintenance (paint, roof, heating and air conditioning systems, appliances, carpet)?
- What about the neighborhood and the quality of life it affords?
- Does the home’s style, features and amenities conform to the neighborhood?
- Are there any potential problems with the home’s electrical or mechanical systems?
- Does the home appear to have any structural problems?
- Does the home appear to have any drainage or foundation problems?
New Home or Older Home?
There are pros and cons to each. While older homes can offer interesting architectural details like higher ceilings, for example, a home with higher ceilings can produce more expensive heating costs. New homes, on the other hand, are likely to be better insulated and more energy efficient. They offer the promise -- but certainly not a guarantee -- of fewer structural and mechanical problems. On the other hand, if you need to buy new draperies and landscaping at the outset, costs quickly can add up.
Don’t forget that the area surrounding new housing developments may not be finished – and when the empty field across the street becomes home to office buildings, the neighborhood could change dramatically. Green spaces and parks may not materialize as promised. Thorough research can help.
Your lender may tell you that you can afford to buy the house you adore, but are you comfortable with the monthly payments you will be obligated to make? Is the down payment within your means? Will you have enough cash to pay transaction costs and moving expenses? If the house needs major repairs, remodeling or redecorating can you save the necessary funds within a reasonable time period?
Size and Configuration
What size house do you need? What is the right combination of bedrooms, bathrooms and other living areas? How much storage is needed? Is a formal space for entertaining important or will more time be spent in the kitchen and family room?
Do you have a priority for a single level home versus a two story? Is central heating or air-conditioning a priority? What directions do the bedrooms and key living areas of the house face? Is there cross-ventilation? If you entertain, is there a bathroom easily accessible for your guests?
What house style suits you best? Modern or traditional? Mediterranean or cottage? Will your current furnishings determine the style of the house you choose? Are there pieces of furniture you own that require space consideration?
Some buyers become enamored with pricey home amenities that seem attractive and desirable at the time, but later prove to be more headache and less pleasure than anticipated. Do you really want a swimming pool? Are you planning on having children? That may mean you will need to enclose the pool or find alternative safety elements. How much landscaping or yard maintenance expenses are you willing to incur?
On average, people move to a new home every seven years. If you wanted to sell your home, how easy would it be to find a willing buyer? If you are interested in a very customized home, it is important to manage your resale expectations and gauge them against the future market conditions.