Things to Consider When House Hunting
Purchasing a home is a significant financial undertaking, and it is important to know what to look for when house hunting.
After spending six figures on a home, the last thing you want is a disappointment. So here are some things to consider when house hunting.
- Hone Your Budget. Most people have a budget for the home but quickly forget that many other expenses come with home buying. You will need insurance, fees for closing and the title, money for new furniture, moving expenses, property taxes, mortgage payments, etc. So make a budget so that you can afford to have the lights turned on when you do move into your home!
- Plan for Your Down Payment. When buying a home, you need to have at least a 20% down payment. If not, the lender will require that you purchase private mortgage insurance. This will quickly add several hundred extra dollars to your monthly premium, which can throw your budget into a frenzy. Plus, some lenders have higher fees and interest rates when the potential buyer doesn't have the required 20% down payment. So the best advice is to delay your home purchase until you have saved up the necessary down payment - it will save you a lot of hassles and stress in the long-run.
- Visit the lender. Many people start seeing homes without knowing if they will get a loan or how much they will be approved. Visit a lender first and see if you meet the eligibility criteria for a loan. You will need to have a good credit score (700+ these days), a stable job, no other significant debts, and have at least a 20% down payment. If you meet these criteria, the lender will provide you with a preapproved loan letter. When you show this letter to the seller, it indicates that you are a bona fide buyer who has the financial resources to buy a home. Without a pre-approved loan letter, most sellers will just ignore you.
- Location, Location, Location. You can buy a home almost anywhere but to live and be happy is a different matter. Because you will be living in a home for at least 5-10 years (possibly forever), it is vital to search for a location that will meet your lifestyle needs. Whether that’s easy access to work and school, to galleries and museums, or mountain trails and bike paths, determine where your happy place is.
- Check Out the View Inside and Out. When you find a home you like, take a look around and ask questions. Walk into every room and look at the view from the windows. Can the neighbors look inside your bedroom? Is the yard suitable for gardening or pets? Is there a tree blocking the view? Does the inside of the home have too many stairs, does the basement have a separate entrance, can you hear noise from the street? Are any of these deal breakers? Think carefully.
- Walk Around the Neighborhood. You can live inside the perfect home, but life can be hell if your neighborhood is not as perfect. So walk around the area and talk to the people. Are there children playing outside? Are any of the homes double-boarded to prevent crime? Are all the homes well maintained? (A poorly kept home next to yours can affect the value of your home.) Does the neighborhood have features and amenities that appeal to you? If not, you may not be satisfied, and you will likely have a tough time selling it in the future.
- Size Matters. It is nice to have a spacious home with rooms for days but buy something you can afford. Make sure you’re buying a home for your lifestyle, not to keep up with the Jones’ - you find yourself in a tricky debt situation. Plus, the bigger the home, the higher the property taxes and utility bills. Also, you will need more furniture to furnish each room. If you are a small family, there is no need to buy a home with four bathrooms; Buy a home that suits your lifestyle and budget. It is possible, and the right real estate agent can get you home.
- Consider the Kitchen Situation. The one-room that you should not settle for less is in the kitchen. Do not buy a home with a dark dingy kitchen thinking you will remodel it afterward. Unless you’re a motivated DIYer, remodeling is a costly endeavor - especially when it comes to the kitchen. You’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars. Look for a home with a kitchen design that you like; you can always buy the appliances and make less aggressive updates later.
- We All Need Storage! Storage space is vital. In general, older homes tend to have little or no storage space. Even the closets are small. If storage space and closets are essential, look for a home that already has these features. Trying to build extra storage space and closets after you buy the home will cost you a lot of money, and it will mean that you sacrifice living space.
- Assess the Lighting. If you love the sun and brightness, you need to look for a home with large windows. You also need to know what type of lighting is in the home. Does it have a chandelier? Does the kitchen have recessed lighting? Does the porch have overhanging lights, etc.? While you can always add more artificial light later, it is always nice to have ample natural light.
- Look with the Artist’s Eye. If you want a decorative home with a fireplace, moldings, and other hardware, then you should spend extra time looking for that home. Remember, while you can always add these features after moving, other things in the home may be deficient and you may never get around to what you wanted in the first place.
- Make a Checklist. When you are considering buying a home, the best thing you can do is make a checklist of what you want and what you do not. Plus, you need to have your budget clearly stated or you will end up buying a home that has everything you wanted, but turned out to be way over your budget.
Stay focused and be prepared to sacrifice some less vital things. For example, if you prioritize a big backyard, are you willing to give up a little square footage on the interior? Need four bedrooms, no less? Ok! Are you willing to live with a smaller living room or no dining room? Ask yourself the tough questions.
- Seek Assistance from a Realtor. These professionals can give you sound advice on many matters of importance when buying a home, but finding a good realtor who has your interests at heart can take time. Start your search with Homes & Land. The premier real estate website lists both realtors and thousands of homes for sale in the nation. You’ll be home in no time!
Home buying is not a complicated process if you have a checklist and are prepared. The other key is to work with a realtor who can guide you through the process of home buying. Home buying should never be an emergency; prepare well ahead of time, and you will be able to buy the dream home you always wanted. Start now; visit Homes & Land to make your dream of homeownership come true.