Whether this is your first home, or you’ve bought homes before, it is important to enter home shopping prepared and with a thoughtful approach. It’s easy for excitement to overrule your natural common sensibility and with such a large purchase, that can lead to a big mistake!
Prioritizing your home requirements is a great place to start. Literally make a thorough list of all of the wishes and desires you want in a home…and then go back and prioritize that list. You’re creating a Home Wants List! But please remember to add to that list important items like:
- The Neighborhood – Do you need quietness at certain times of day? How important would it be to have parks and trails within your neighborhood? How about a community pool? How close do you need schools to be?
- The Location – Do you know how long the commute is to your place of employment? I mean, have you literally driven from that home you’re thinking about buying to your work at the same time you would if you lived there? How close do you need grocery stores, doctors, veterinarians, pharmacies, restaurants…pizza delivery? How about the kid’s soccer practice commute?
- How about Internet speed at your potential new home? This.Is.Huge!
- HOA $$ Fees….and better check out the HOA Rules & Regs! Can you keep your RV, boat, trailer there?
- Tax Rate – This is really the big kahuna! Often overlooked but this makes a huge difference in your monthly escrow payment; or your annual tax payment. To the tune of thousands of dollars so it is not something to be ignored. And if you contemplate buying brand new? Be on the alert even more! Often, you’re quoted tax on a non-improved lot when you are talking to new builders, relating to how much tax you’ll pay. After you build it’s a different story and some unsuspecting folk’s escrow payment jumps hundreds, if not a thousand dollars to cover the new, ‘improved basis’ lot amount! Yikes!
Add to the above list your specific home-design requirements: What county or city do you need? 1 or 2 story? What square footage ranges do you need? Number of bedrooms and bathrooms? Do you need a fireplace? Formal dining? Hate a formal living? Need 2 offices for 2 who work at home? Want a large lot? No carpet? 3-car garage? School district? Pool? Game Room? Must you have large mature trees on your lot? Do you need bathtubs in every bathroom? Do you want to cook with gas? Do you need a large yard for your pooch?
And the final line-item-desire on your list? What is your price range for all of these wishes and desires? (You have been pre-approved for that loan amount, right?)
OK…at this point you don’t know if you’ve asked for too many wishes and desires in relationship to your price range. Right? Well, that’s okay…here is how to proceed. Hand that Home Wants List to your lovely, trusted Realtor! Hopefully you’ll send it to me 😉 and I will input your parameters into the MLS (Multiple Listing System). It will automatically spit you out every listing that matches your parameters in milliseconds after they are listed! You’ll get an immediate clue that your ‘house wants’ are more than your budget can afford if there are no results produced from the MLS after your parameters are input…
If you find yourself needing more homes to view than MLS is finding within your parameters, it is time to pare down those choices. Thankfully, at this point you will have prioritized your wish list! However, this will be where the rubber will meet the road regarding your prioritization of your ‘home wants’. For example: you may have to change your mind about the length of commute in order to get the home you really want. Alternatively, you may choose to look at smaller homes in order to maintain the commute you want! Armed with a well-prepared Home Wants List, you are less likely to overlook a critical aspect of your new home ownership in the excitement of looking.
Being prepared with all the information to make a good decision on your new home is always my goal for you! No surprises! Treating home shopping like a business decision is wise. Taking as much emotion out of your purchase by sticking to a pre-determined list has helped many have an easier time making a home buying decision.
Looking for more Buyer Tips? READ THESE before you go shopping!