It’s normal to be cautious when shopping for a home, because it’s something you’re going to make a long-term commitment to. So how do you find a place that you know is commitment-worthy?
In some cases, you might know as soon as you see the home. But, more than likely, it’ll take some time to find one that is ideal for you. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re searching for a new home:
1. Know Your Preferences
Do you prefer a single-story home or a multistory home? New versus existing? Would you take on a fixer-upper? If so, will you need to budget for a contractor?
You’ll also want to think long-term. Your expectations may be different for a starter home compared to a home that will accommodate you for years to come. Are you looking to buy a starter home with hopes of moving up in a few years, or are you looking for a home that you’ll be comfortable in for 5 – 10 years?
These are some questions to ask yourself when you start your home search. Sort out your negotiables and non-negotiables, because it can help you quickly narrow down options that might fit your needs. However, it’s important that you remain open minded so that you’re not limiting yourself and missing out on great options.
2. Identify Areas You’d Like to Live in
Research areas or neighborhoods that you might want to live in. Check on commute times, school districts, and proximity to grocery stores & other amenities. Or, it may be easier to eliminate areas that you don’t want to live in. You may not want to live near major highways, factories, or areas that will extend your commute times.
Location & local development are factors to consider when you’re thinking about the future value of your home, because you want that value to grow over time. If you’re unsure about amenities or development in your areas of interest, ask your REALTOR® for insight on those things.
Once you have an idea of the areas you like, check with your REALTOR® to get a feel of the available homes in your price range in those areas.
3. Figure Out Finances
Create a budget so you know how much you’re comfortable spending each month on housing and the bills that accompany it. Think about groceries, utilities, satellite or cable television, internet, and anything else that can be an expense when you buy a home.
Next, meet with a lender to get preapproved and figure out exactly how much you’re eligible to borrow. Having a preapproval letter to show a seller will make your offer stand out against offers that may be contingent on financing.
4. Narrow the Search to True Contenders
Start out by browsing online for listings in the neighborhoods or areas that you’re interested in. This will allow you to see all of the available options and get a feel for what’s out there. You’ll also be able to narrow down listings that you’re truly interested in, saving you from having to tour each one in person.
Once you have them narrowed down, reach out to your REALTOR® to let them know which homes you’re interested in and schedule showings.
5. Check the Vitals of the Home
When you’re walking though a home that you’re interested in, check (or ask your REALTOR®) about the vital components of the home. These are things that can be costly to repair, like:
- Plumbing – Check under sinks and around toilets for signs of leaks or previous water damage.
- Roofing – Take a look at the roofing when you’re outside the home, and ask your agent how old it is. Be on the lookout for discoloration of ceilings, as well, because that can be a telltale sign of a roof leak.
- HVAC system – Be sure to ask about the age of the HVAC system and if there have been any major problems or repairs to it.
- Windows – Open & close the windows to make sure they are in good condition. Check around them for any signs of air or water leaks that may need to be sealed.
6. Work With a REALTOR®
Find a local real estate agent that is experienced in the area or neighborhood that you’re interested in. A REALTOR® will be able to answer questions and guide you through each step of the process.
Team Melton is ready to help you with the home buying experience. Our team of professionals has over 50 combined years of real estate experience to assist you through every step of the process.