Are you in the market for a new home? House shopping can be a daunting task, keep it simple with these 10 easy tips.
1. Write down your “must haves” in a new home. Write down the features you must have in your new home. Prioritize your list from “must have, nice to have, and deal breakers” (those items you positively don’t want).
2. Stay in budget and get pre-approved. Make sure to get pre-approved for a loan before going out to look for a new home. It will make the home buying process easier and will help keep you focused on which homes to look at. Don’t spend all your money in one place, there will be expenses with moving and getting settled into your new home.
3. Drive by at different times of the day. Pay attention to the vibe, activity, and noise levels during different times of the day around a particular home or neighborhood that you may be considering.
4. Consider remodeling. Some homes may not be in the best condition, but think about the potential of the house. Carefully identity if improvements are cosmetic or structural. Look for damage or areas of improvement. Open the cupboards and lift the rugs. Look at each room from top to bottom. Cosmetic fix-ups such as adding new light fixtures and painting walls can turn your house into the perfect home. Structural issues can be more complicated and need consulting an engineer.
5. Location. Drive around a two mile radius and check the surrounding area of the home. Make sure you’re comfortable with the neighborhood. Go to walkscore.com to learn more about transportation, restaurants, and shopping in the neighborhood. Test drive the commute to your work to see how long it will take.
6. Do your research. You can start your research on websites like Zillow.com (of course, Zillow can only provide rough estimates that can be inaccurate, so make sure you speak with a Realtor who can provide accurate comps and estimated home values through the MLS). Is it a family friendly neighborhood? Check out the local schools – even if you don’t have children, the school district may affect resale values. Look into neighborhood crime statistics and community events.
7. Take time to soak it in. Have fun and be excited but don’t be afraid to “sleep on it” before buying a home. After the initial first impression has worn off, walk through the house again and this time look at it like a home inspector rather than a potential buyer.
8. When you walk through a home, take notes, and pictures. Write down a few sentences about your impression of the home. Note what you like and don’t like before you leave the house. This will help you compare the various homes you look at. If looking at new homes, learn which features are included standard vs. upgrades that cost extra between different home builders and the costs involved. And don’t forget to take furniture measurements with you.
9. Leave room to grow. You may accumulate more things as time goes on–check for extra storage so you have room to grow.
10. Check your expectations. Realize that most homes aren’t perfect to begin with. Even if you are building your dream home, there are always things that could have been different. Be flexible. Once you move in and add your own style it will become your dream home.
What tips have you used to find your new home? Please share them in the comments below.