If you are like most Americans, buying a home can come with mixed emotions. It is fun, exciting and at the same time stressful and overwhelming. What should you consider when you are getting ready to buy your first home?
Do you know what you are looking for? What characteristics should your home have? How many bedrooms? What style of home do you prefer- ranch, two story colonial, cape cod? What size yard are you looking for? When was the house built? How do you know if you are getting a good deal on a house?
These are all considerations to take when buying a property. For us, we have a home so when we buy, we are looking more at investments, but we go through the same process every time. We ask ourselves the above questions because they all matter.
Here are some additional steps to take when buying a home:
- Research the property. When did it sell last and for what price? What is the square footage on the property? What are other houses in the neighborhood selling for? What updates have been done when looking at the pictures? We look at Zillow to see what the houses in the neighborhood are estimated at and you can see the size of the neighboring homes to compare prices. Zillow is probably not the most accurate, but I do feel Zillow is in the ballpark most times.
- Talk to a realtor. Realtors can find out some in depth information by talking to the selling real estate agent. They take care of all the business transactions for you. So, if you find a house you like, you talk to your realtor and they contact the selling realtor and try to get the deal done. Your realtor is in your corner so just be honest and up front with them. Make sure you find someone who is patient and not just trying to make a sale. If you need a recommendation, let me know:) I know a good realtor.
- Walk through the property and PAY ATTENTION. This is key. Make sure you walk through the property. We sometimes will go through twice before purchasing a property because let’s face it, this isn’t monopoly…this is hard earned money. When you walk through the property pay attention to the ceiling, windows, furnace, floor (make sure it is not slanted. Slanted can mean foundation issues.) air conditioning unit, roof. These are the big things that can be costly. Your realtor can usually find out when the roof was replaced last and sometimes they can find out if there have been other updates. Don’t be afraid to ask them to talk to the selling agent about any updates done on the property if they don’t have that information up front when meeting with you at the walk through.
- How much cosmetic work needs to be done. Are you ok with buying a house at a cheaper price and putting some work into it or do you want a move in ready home? Definitely take this into consideration. You can get a great deal on a fixer upper, but if you have to pay a bunch of money for someone to fix it up, it may not be worth it in the long run. Keep a running tab in your head of how much you think it will cost to fix up the property and figure out if you still think it is worth it.
- Talk to the bank if you are going to take out a loan. Find out what the interest rates are. You need to make sure you can afford the house comfortably before actually buying it. There is something called the debt to income ratio. Basically, the bank is not going to let you buy a property if you cannot afford it. Really analyze how big of a house you need and analyze how much you can afford before you even start looking at homes. Keep in mind you will also have to pay home owner’s insurance so plan ahead for that. Talk to an insurance company once you find a house you are interested in to see how much that would be per month or year.
Buying a home can be stressful. To be prepared, do a little research on the house you are interested in before making an offer. Also, come up with a ballpark figure of how much you would be comfortable spending when you purchase your home. What other factors can you think of that may be helpful when buying a house?
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