It can be exciting to start looking at homes once you’ve decided to buy. However, there are a few things you should do before house hunting. Follow these steps before buying a house to ensure you are ready for whatever comes your way.
Take a Hard Look at Your Budget
Before beginning the quest to find a new home, you need to take an honest look at your finances. Can you really afford the costs associated with owning a home? Look beyond the mortgage payment and consider the utilities on a home and the cost of maintaining it.
Make a Wish List
Before you start looking for homes you need to know what you want. Consider the type of property you’d like to see. Think of the various indoor and outdoor features you’d like to see. Decide whether or not you are looking to do some work in a home or if you want it move in ready.
Features to Include on Your Wishlist:
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
- Desired square footage
- Outdoor Living Space
Try to anticipate where your life may lead during your time in the home. Make sure that the home fits your future needs or that it has a strong resale value if you decide to sell the home down the line to meet your life goals.
Price Shop Various Home Repairs
Now that you’ve got your wish list for what you want in your house, it is time to get realistic. Most likely you won’t have the budget for everything you want in a home. Decided what items you are willing to compromise on. Getting an idea of how much various home upgrades may cost can help you to know if you can afford the updates you want in a home.
If you want hardwood floors and a potential home does not have any, you will know about how much it will cost you. You can then decide if its within your budget or if it is a deal breaker.
You’ll also want to consider updates that aren’t very fun. Everyone likes updates that immediately improve the look and function of a home, but repairs like an HVAC system or a new hot water heater aren’t enjoyable and can be pricey. Having the knowledge of how much home repairs cost can save you time, money and a headache.
Find Your Preferred Location
If there’s one thing you cannot change after buying a house, it is the location. Finding the right place to live is an integral part of the process. This may be an area where you decide not to compromise.
Items to Consider About Your Home’s Location:
- School District
- Property Taxes
- Proximity to Amenities
- Value of Homes in the Area
- Homeowner’s Association
You should always try to buy in a desirable school district, even if you don’t have kids. Buying in a top district can be a big factor during resale. Consider the property taxes you’ll be required to pay. Are they exorbitantly high? Look at the value of other homes nearby, you don’t want to by the most expensive home and have the lower values on other houses bring yours down. Many neighborhoods now have Homeowner’s Associations. If you’re interested in a house within an HOA try to talk to some residents in the neighborhood about how the HOA has handled things in the past.
This by far is the most important thing you can do before buying a house. Most often realtors will not even show a client homes unless they provide a pre-approval letter. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage allows you to know how much of a loan you’ll be approved for. It will make your offer look much stronger and it will expedite the process between going under contract and closing on a home.
There is no one correct way of buying a home. Each first time homebuyer has a different journey to finding their new home. Following the advice listed above will make the process more enjoyable and will set you up with a home you can love for many years.