Buying a home can be stressful. It's one of the largest purchases you may ever make and you want to be sure of your decision and know all of your options. So here are 5 essential things you need to do when you buy a home.
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Get pre-approved for a mortgage
This is very important to starting your home search. Why? Because you’ll want to realistically know your budget before you waste your time or anyone else’s looking at homes that you cannot afford. Furthermore, by knowing your pre-approved amount you may find that you can spend a little more on a home while reducing other costs like utility and transportation costs or even get you closer to the schools, parks, entertainment and friends and family.
Most agents will want to see that you've taken this first step before they take you to look at homes. Start by calling your local bank or there are sites that allow you to fill in a survey and get information from different companies. Search online “compare mortgages”
2. Understand what you really need now and for the possible future. Make a list!
It’s easy to get distracted by a pretty kitchen or bathroom when you really should have considered that extra bedroom for guests or expanding the family, a yard or allowing pets in a condo for a pet that you’ve been thinking of adding to the family. What about your possible work and transportation needs. “Transportation is actually the second largest expenditure for most American families. Americans spend about 16% of their income on it, with monthly costs coming in at a whopping $813 on average.” -- 2018’s US Bureau of Labor Statistics
3. Find your ideal location, and check it out during the day and night.
After you know what you can afford, now you can start finding neighborhoods with homes in your budget. Websites like RealtySage.com can help you understand if a home has certain livable features such as commutes, parks, etc…with their Sage Score. But you also need to do some legwork on this. Walk, bike, or drive around different neighborhoods to see what you like or don’t like about them. And be open minded to your real estate agent’s suggestions. They see what neighborhoods have and don’t have and can give you even more suggestions that you may not have considered.
4. Understand what the home has and will need and how this will affect your budget.
Did you know that different features will actually change your monthly costs? The most important parts of a home are its structure, roof, efficiency, systems, plumbing, electrical and appliances. Other things like carpet, paint, and countertops can cost you money to replace or upgrade, that's true, but things like a home’s structure, systems and appliances will cost you even more money to either upgrade or they will cost you money in utility and maintenance costs.
How much are the utilities?
When you’re looking at homes make sure to ask how the utilities cost on average and if there things in the home that can reduce your monthly costs like every efficient heating and cooling systems, solar energy.
Should you buy an older home or a new one?
Buying an older home isn't always bad idea. In fact, buying a new home with newer systems and appliances which are not energy efficient can cause you to pay more in the cost of the home upfront and even more per month in utility costs. Sometimes buying a home with older systems allows you to buy the home at a lower cost and then purchase better systems and even install renewable energy, saving you money each month.
Does the property have a condo or homeowners association fees and what kinds of costs do those include like parking, water, exterior maintenance or even electricity? These costs can be helpful or hurtful. Do these fees include a gym or concierge that you’ll never use? Or do they include exterior maintenance which will help you save on yard tools and free up your weekend household chores. Know what homes have and don’t have and have a good understanding of how they will benefit you.
5.Find an ideal agent
Does this all sound like a lot of work? It can be. But that’s why there are professionals who can help you through the pre-approval process, recommend lenders, help you determine what kind of home may work for you now and in the future, help you locate more neighborhoods that fit your needs, and as you view homes they can help you determine that costs and benefits of each home including potential upgrades.
You can check out
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