November 25th, 2019 8:04 AM by Jackie A. Graves, President
When you’re out on the open house circuit or browsing homes online,
there are dozens of factors to consider as you hunt for the right place.
want to start by making a list of the things that you need and want in a home.
Everyone’s list will be different. Young families may be looking for a starter
home they can grow into, while empty nesters might prefer smaller homes with
reality is that you probably won’t get everything on your list. You’ll need to
make some trade-offs to find a house that meets your needs and fits in your
“As you go through the process, it ends up being more of a
process of elimination than selection, once you start going into houses and
you’ll see what your priorities are,” says Andi DeFelice, an associate broker
with Exclusive Buyer’s Realty in Savannah, Georgia, and president of the
National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents.
knowing what to look for is key to making the most of your search. Here’s a
guide on what to look for when buying a house.
What to look for when
buying a house: Deal breakers
no reason to waste your time looking at properties that you can’t afford. Use
Bankrate’s calculator to get a sense of how much
house you can afford and estimate the mortgage amount that best fits into your
budget. Be sure to also factor in additional costs, such as taxes, insurance
and maintenance. The higher the price of the house you want to buy, the more
you’ll pay on a monthly basis.
reason that the Realtors joke that the three most important things in real estate
are “location, location and location.” No amount of remodeling can change the
location of your house.
too-long commute or underperforming schools for your children could leave you
with buyer’s remorse, even if the house has everything else you’re looking for.
The location also includes the neighborhood and the neighbors, so pay attention
to what the block and the community is like, too.
suggest doing a drive-by at a few random times of the day to see what the
neighborhood looks like then,” DeFelice says. “Is there something going on in
that area that wouldn’t make you happy to walk out your door every day?”
Issues with the home
The home inspection will let you know if
there are any potential problems with the structure or systems of the house. If
the inspection turns up potentially expensive issues, you can ask the seller to
fix them or negotiate a lower price to account for the problems. If the sellers
aren’t interested in either option, you have the option to walk away from the
deal, as long as you have a home inspection contingency in your
Needs vs. wants
Dated kitchens and
may prefer a house with a recently remodeled kitchen and bathrooms, you
shouldn’t automatically write off a home that needs a facelift. Instead,
consider making an offer that factors in the cost of such renovations.
they’re planned out well, the projects may cost less than you think, and you’ll
get the bonus of being able to choose designs that meet your taste. Before you
go this route, though, bring a contractor in to provide an estimate and
timeline for renovations. And be honest with yourself about whether you want to
deal with the extra time and stress of large-scale renovations.
on your list
because a home doesn’t check every box on your dream-home list that doesn’t
mean it’s not the right one for you. Ultimately, you might decide that some
factors are more important than others. A great room for entertaining, for
example, may trump your desire for a waterfall shower, if you can’t find a home
that has both.
Stuff not to stress over
all the home staging in the world isn’t
enough to distract you from dated fixtures, poor lighting and hideous
wallpaper. Sure, these are cosmetic eyesores but you can change all of these
items after you move in. Instead of getting distracted by aesthetics, use it as
an opportunity to imagine the ways that you’ll make the seller’s house your
think about what to look for when buying a house, it can be overwhelming just
to pinpoint the features and amenities you want. Just as you shouldn’t let
unsightly decor keep you from seeing the hidden potential in a home, don’t be
swayed by a house that’s decorated like it could be in a magazine. Staging is
designed to pull you in but, in reality, all of the furniture and eye-catching
decor isn’t part of the package.
about what’s behind the glitz and the glam,” says Herman Chan, an associate
broker with Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty in Berkeley, California.
“You’re not buying the furniture; you have to understand that. You’re buying
the system and the structure.”
It can be
hard to know what to look for when buying a house. Homes with more features that
have been renovated might cost more, which may not line up with your budget. As
you review online photos and start seeing homes in person, it’s important to
remember you can repaint, replace fixtures and add your own flare, but you
can’t change a home’s location. Choose wisely.
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