Choosing a Home to Buy
A house is shelter, but a home is far more. It's where you live, relax, entertain friends, raise families, and work. A home is where you spend much of your life, and so choosing a house is an enormous decision. How do you know if a house is THE one? Here are 6 tips to consider before choosing a home.
1. Grab Your Calculator. Your lender says you can afford to buy the home you adore, but are you comfortable with the monthly payments you'll be obligated to make? Is the down payment within your means? Will you have enough cash to pay transaction costs and moving expenses? If the house needs major repairs, remodeling or redecorating can you save the necessary funds within a reasonable time period? What about ongoing maintenance. A dream home becomes a nightmare the moment you can’t afford it. Remember, look beyond the listing price. For example, a house with vaulted ceilings costs more to heat and a house with a pool means paying to maintain it. All these extra factors can add up.
2. Condition. Along with price, the condition of the home should be a top consideration. Does the home need a new roof? Extensive upgrading of the electrical wiring? New plumbing? Is the home disaster-ready. A fixer-upper home with lots of potential can be a great find or a money pit. Will you be able to meet the financial challenges and live with the mess and inconvenience while the home is being brought up to your expectations?
3. Trust Your Intuition. Most buyers form opinions in the first few seconds after walking into a house. Can you picture yourself and your family in this house? Where will you put your furniture? For example, if you’re viewing a house and find yourself imagining your sofa near the window and your green chair near the fireplace, pay attention. Chances are the house is a nice match for you.
4. There’s No Such Thing as a Crystal Ball. Wondering whether the house will be too small if you get a dog—or too big when the kids leave for college—is inevitable. It is important to envision a home’s role over time but making a decision with too many variables in mind can work against you. You should buy the house for the way you are living today, then adapt as you go.
5. Buy How You Live Not Where You’ll Live. A house that offers a beautiful water view with enormous windows can seem like a wonderful place to call home, but if you’re rarely home during the day, the views aren’t going to be visible most of the time. Focus on features that will please you indoors. This advice is particularly applicable to high-traffic parts of the house, such as the kitchen. A sleek, minimalist European stainless steel breakfast bar may set your heart on fire, but if you’ve got busy toddlers, a practical kitchen with lots of room and sturdy smudge-resistant cabinetry may be a better match.
6. Don’t Delay. When you finally do make a decision, make an offer right away. Every REALTOR® has stories to tell about a couple who looked far and wide for their dream home, finally found it, and then “thought it over.” Many times the story has a sad ending -- someone else came in that evening with an offer that was accepted. Resolve at this point that you will act decisively when you find the house that’s clearly right for you. This is particularly important after a long search or if the house is newly listed and/or under-priced.
There are many things to consider when choosing a home. We all want to walk into a home and instantly fall in love with it. We hope to be able to picture ourselves in that home with our families. But buyers should not rely on feelings and emotions solely. There are other factors to consider.