There are so many important considerations when buying a house that the process can be a little overwhelming, even for seasoned home buyers! With a list of decisions to be made - from determining how much you want to spend, to selecting the ideal neighborhood, to exploring the various homes available on the market, there are a great deal of factors at play in what is inevitably a major life decision. Decisions aside, home ownership can be a really positive experience, and with more and more women impressively taking the lead on their independent or family’s real estate portfolio, there are many good reasons to define and explore the most valuable considerations when buying a house. Whether you are already looking for a new home, interested in jumping in to the market for the first time, or simply wanting to better understand how to buy a house, these tips are designed to assist in leading you to the perfect home sweet home!
1. Set a Realistic Budget
Real estate represents typically the largest purchase(s) dollar-wise that we will ever make, and as such, perhaps the most important factors to consider when purchasing a home all involve money and budgeting. The first step to getting into the real estate market is to visit the bank and gain a clear understanding of what you can afford. Setting a budget will allow you to narrow down the homes that are real options for you, as well as develop a picture of your financial situation in terms of what you might be able to contribute as a down payment, what type of interest rates you can expect, and what amount your mortgage payments should be. Keep in mind that knowing how to buy a house means knowing how much you can spend on that house and taking in to account the fact that life rarely stays exactly the same as it is today! Set yourself up for financial success by creating a realistic budget that allows you to continue to live your life and prepare for the future, then- stick to it!
2. Manage Your Expectations
Once you have determined exactly what you can afford, it is very important to manage your expectations accordingly. Everyone - even real estate moguls like Donald Trump, bless his heart - started somewhere. With very few exceptions, most people do not buy their dream home on the first purchase. As you begin the process of learning how to buy a house, prepare a list of properties that are well within your price range, and represent the areas you are most interested in. Do not automatically rule out condominiums or town-homes, which can be ideal for building equity to use for something larger down the road, and instead keep an open mind and consider a variety of options within your budget! Be sure to factor any potential renovation costs in to the total asking price of the home, consider which features are the most important to you in the purchase, and evaluate each listing from a realistic, grounded standpoint. Looking at properties you cannot afford, creating unattainable expectations of grandeur, or failing to research what exactly your money is worth in a given neighborhood will only lead to disappointment and feelings of inadequacy. As a wise woman once told me when I started looking for my first home: "The goal is not to buy the best house - the goal is to buy the best house at the price you can afford". Real estate words to live by!
3. Location, Location, Location
In general terms, a home is only as good as its location. The most beautiful property, wedged between a major highway and an airport is not only going to be a nightmare in terms of noise and privacy, it is also going to be very difficult to re-sell. As a result, one of the key considerations when buying a house is both what the location offers to you and your needs, and also what it may represent as a future investment. Many urban centers are priced significantly higher per square foot, and consist of primarily smaller homes like condominiums, because there is limited and highly sought-after space to develop, and the area is vibrant with shops, restaurants and amenities. Adversely, the suburbs are an ideal place to often get more for your dollar, where larger properties can be extremely valuable in neighborhoods with top rated schools, low crime rates and well-maintained homes. As you determine the type of property you are looking for, it is very important to examine the different benefits of the locations that appeal to you, identify any potential negatives for the area, and weigh heavily the value of each neighborhood in which you are looking to buy. Selecting the right location can be a significant part of enjoying your home and your lifestyle, as well as retaining the value of your investment!
4. Consult with Professionals
Accounting for all of the various considerations when buying a house can be much easier to navigate if you take advantage of the many professionals available in the industry to assist you. A mortgage broker can be a huge help in terms of understanding the financial component to your purchase, a real estate agent can successfully identify potential properties and work to negotiate a contract that considers your best interests, a contractor can assist you in mapping out costs for renovations, a property inspector can ensure you are getting a sound home, and a lawyer or notary can take the guess work out of the closing process. While the scope of assistance these professionals can offer may vary from country to country, the bottom line is that you do not have to guess how to buy a home - you can instead utilize an entire industry of experts trained in the field and available to advocate on your behalf!
5. Define Your Deal-Breakers
Each of us has a list of must-haves when it comes to our living space and of all the factors to consider when purchasing a home, this is perhaps the most important in terms of ensuring you select something that reflects your own personal tastes and needs. Perhaps you have a growing family and require a minimum number of bedrooms close to a good school district, or absolutely need to live in the city. Maybe you work from home and need a separate office area, or you have a passion for cooking and value a designer kitchen - narrowing down your absolutes will be a sure way to avoid wasting time on unsuitable properties, and instead allow you to determine exactly what you are willing to compromise on and what you simply can’t live without. Again, the key here is to be realistic in your expectations - determining that you would love an outdoor pool you cannot afford because it would be wonderful sipping cocktails poolside in the summer is not a deal-breaker, it's a dream to work towards. This list is about asking yourself, if you only have a certain amount to spend, how exactly you want to use that money to best benefit your needs and reflect your lifestyle.
6. Consider the Re-Sale Potential
Whether you are rooted in a home you love, or looking to upgrade to something larger in a new location, or just a different style of space, one of the many considerations when buying a house, especially for first or second-time buyers, is the re-sale potential of the property. With covering everything from how well the home and neighborhood is anticipated to maintain and grow in value, to the scope of possible purchasers who may be interested in the home when you want to sell, re-sale potential is a good frame of reference to keep in mind when it comes down to the decision of one home over another. Although it is, of course, most important to keep your own needs and interests in mind, most of us will eventually sell the current home we are in, and evaluating how and who you might be able to market your property to down the road is an important part of narrowing down your selection, and planning for future investment potential.
7. Be Flexible on Timeline
Housing purchases are not always cut and dry in terms of timeline, as both the buyer and seller are often looking to close the deal and move at the most opportune time for themselves. Even in new construction situations, a buyer will typically need to work around the developers’ timeline and estimated completion date, and accommodate any unforeseen delays. Of the many good tips on how to buy a house, being flexible on your timeline is another way to greatly increase your chances of finding a home that you absolutely love. In a perfect world, the date you want or need to move would coincide exactly with the date the home is available, however if that is not the case, don’t let that one factor deter you from selecting the home! Look at the big picture in terms of timeline and keep in mind that a willingness to stay temporarily with friends and family, move in to a short term rental to bridge the gap, or adjust the timing of the sale of your current property may mean the difference between winding up in your dream home, or something that came in second-best.
8. Do Your Homework
Knowledge is power, and in order to get the most out of your real estate experience, it is really to your advantage to do your homework before you buy. Researching properties and neighborhoods on your own can assist you in your decision making process, learning about the types of mortgages available and the pros and cons of each can help you get the most for your dollar, and simply understanding how the market works can really be among the most valuable considerations when buying a house. While it is a great idea to work with professionals in the industry who can sort out the nuances of the experience for you, it is always to your benefit to be an active participant in the process. Though it can seem daunting - especially if you are getting in to the market for the first time, or have never had any previous real estate experience - you should not be afraid of asking questions, reading up on the Internet, exploring open houses on your own, or involving yourself in the purchase. Like so many other things in life, the more you know, the better you can make decisions that are right for you!
Real estate can be an exciting and valuable investment, and with so many factors to consider when purchasing a home, it is truly worth your while to explore all the possibilities and take the time to find the right property, at the right price for you! Whether situated in the city or the country, in a small or large home, where we live represents so much about our lifestyle, personal preferences and what we value, and owning that space can be a truly inspiring, very meaningful process for many people, from the thrill of buying their first property, to the joy of settling in to their dream home. We would love to hear about your experiences in the real estate market! Have you purchased a new home or are you happily-house-hunting right now? Share your stories!
Top Image Source: browsewallpapers.com