Finding and choosing the home that is right for you can be overwhelming, especially in today’s frenzied market where you feel like you’ve won the lottery just having a bid accepted. Thinking through these 5 items will help you find a good house with less stress.
1. Neighborhood Watch.
Most neighborhoods are quiet and look good during the day, but what happens later? Visit during the evening and the weekend. Are there neighborhood events? Is there blaring music or are people wandering aimlessly? For greater security, check the crime statistics. Also, check out the schools and ask neighbors about the area.
2. Design Matters.
Choose an area of town and one or two home designs that you like, instead of looking at everything. This will reduce your stress and maximize your time. Questions to consider: Do you want one story or two? Kitchens are important; what size do you need? Do you love an open floor plan for greater community or need traditional room divisions for minimum noise and maximum privacy? The more precise you are about what you want, the better your realtor can help you find the perfect home.
3. Plan to Succeed.
Always stay within your budget. Calculate down payment (20%) and closing (5%) as well as moving costs. Buy homeowner’s insurance that starts on the first day you own the house. Can you see a copy of the current owner’s utilities bills? Is there a homeowner’s association fee? What are the rules?
4. Inspect What You Expect.
Have an inspection to learn about the safety and durability of your home. Typically the most expensive items are foundation, roof, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. Are the “Big 5” only needing basic maintenance or major overhauls? Electrical and plumbing are often as old as the house. Is the home up-to-date for safety or meeting original codes? Many people believe that the Seller’s Disclosure will give them all the information, but sellers often forget DIY projects or learn to live with quirks. Professional licensed inspectors look for safety issues and things that might compromise the long term investment of your home. An inspection contributes to your long term success.
5. Learn to Walk.
Be willing to walk away if the deal isn’t right for you. There will be another house that better meets your needs; try to be patient even if your time is running out. Better to make short term living arrangements than allow yourself be trapped in a bad investment.
Good luck house hunting and may you find the house of your dreams!