A home is perhaps one of the largest investments you’ll ever make, which is why you need to keep important considerations for buying a house top of mind during the house-hunting process.
As a first-time home buyer, whether you’re excited or intimidated about the process, there are several factors you want to consider. After all, no one wants their biggest financial move to be a complete failure.
In your journey towards homeownership, take a look at these 10 things to consider when buying a house — whether its an older home, a starter home, or your forever home.
What to know before buying a house
1. Other people’s opinions and experiences
As you plan to buy your home, you’ll likely hear some thoughts and opinions from several different sources. Whether it’s your family members, friends, or colleagues, you’ll probably hear their “two cents” when it comes to homebuying decisions.
Even though it’s probably not feasible to listen to every single piece of advice, it can be a good idea to hear out the ones who have experience in the homebuying process — particularly a trustworthy realtor.
So, when it comes to deciding whose advice to listen to, turn to people who have worked in real estate before or those who have bought two or more homes. They’re likely to have extensive knowledge about all the important details of the homebuying process.
2. The size of your ideal home
When it comes to choosing the right home for you, find one with the exact space and floor plan you need. In other words, don’t buy a home with a ton of square footage when it’s not necessary. More space means more area to clean and maintain as well as higher utility bills.
To figure out how large your next home should be, look at your current space before you begin the house-hunting process.
For example, are you able to live comfortably with the current number of bedrooms you have? Or do you need more due to certain changes (e.g., a new baby or a work-from-home job)? How large is your kitchen? What about your closets? Do you have functional storage space?
Ask yourself these questions as you’re looking at new homes and attending open houses. Doing so can help you decide on a home with just the right amount of space for your unique needs ready for you when you move in.
3. Your loan approval terms
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Getting pre-approval from a mortgage lender doesn’t mean certain terms are set in stone. However, the terms of the loan can give you an idea about your potential mortgage payment, interest rate, principal, property taxes, and homeowners insurance costs. This will help you come up with a detailed budget for what your monthly payments will look like.
Not only that, but your loan approval numbers can also help you determine how much you possibly need for a down payment. If your down payment is 20% of the total purchase price of your home, you can avoid private mortgage insurance — something that can be particularly helpful in an era of high mortgage rates.
If you can’t find a home that’s within your loan pre-approval limit, or if you can’t afford to put down 20%, then it means you should keep looking because your price range is too high. Don’t forget, you’ll have to pay for closing costs, too, which can be prohibitively expensive.
This is why it’s so important to get pre-approved first before looking at a house. Pre-approval defines your search and helps you determine which properties are a good fit for you to look at. After all, no one wants to fall in love with their dream home only to find out it’s entirely out of their budget because they don’t qualify for a big enough home loan.
If you want to get the best deal possible, you need to have an excellent credit score. If yours isn’t where you’d like it to be, you may want to enlist the services of a credit repair agency.
4. What a home inspection includes
Another homebuying nightmare is purchasing a home that has major issues. This is why inspections are so vital during your home search. Home inspections can uncover a wide range of major problems, including:
● Pest infestations
● Roof damage
● Water damage
● Lead piping or paint
● Water damage
● Water heater damage
● HVAC issues
● Improper insulation
● Foundation problems
● …and more
It’s important for homebuyers to be aware of these problems and understand what renovations and upgrades may be necessary before closing on a home.
In some cases, certain issues a home inspector finds might result in a completely different offer that requires the seller to pay for repair costs before closing.
5. The home’s neighborhood
If you’ve decided on a particular neighborhood for your dream home, consider taking a walk through there. Look at your surroundings to get a feel for the homes.
What are the home values in the area? What condition are the houses in? Are the yards well-kept? How’s the landscaping? What about the crime ratings and the school district?
If you don’t like what you’re seeing, or it just doesn’t feel right, chances are it’s a deal-breaker and buying a home in that neighborhood isn’t the best move.
6. The age of appliances
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Another important consideration for buying a home is the age of appliances and systems. From washers and dryers to refrigerators and stoves, the age of your appliances can play a huge part in their overall health, functionality, and lifespan.
So, as you look for your first home, get a bit more information about the age of major appliances. An appliance that’s been in operation for over 10 years could signal a replacement is right around the corner.
Not taking into account the age of a home’s appliances could set you up for heartbreaking, budget-busting replacement costs later on down the line.
7. The home’s location
A home with a long commute to work or school can cause an inconvenience. The same could be true of a house that’s not close to public transportation.
So, if commute is important to you, make sure you consider a home’s proximity to essential places. Look up directions or make the drive yourself to get a sense of traffic and potential routes.
8. The orientation of windows
An often-overlooked factor in buying a home is which way the windows face. The direction your home faces affects the amount of sunlight it gets as well as energy efficiency, heating and cooling costs, home maintenance, energy flow, and more.
While the orientation of windows might not be the most important issue, having them in optimal locations is definitely a nice-to-have.
9. Homeowners Association details
Before you buy a property, you need to determine whether the home you’re interested in is part of a homeowners association (HOA).
If it is, you first need to read through those requirements. Determine how much expenses are and what they cover to see whether it makes sense to you. Look at other rules of the HOA that might affect certain actions — like parking, landscaping requirements, or holiday decorations.
10. Whether there are current offers on the house
So, what are other things to do before buying a house — particularly in a competitive market?
One key action is to check if there are any existing offers. Your real estate agent should be able to help you. If your agent discovers other bids, it could mean you’ll have to make counteroffers. This could be especially true for popular homes on the market.
Enjoy the homebuying process!
Before submitting your offer on a home, make sure you’ve considered what’s included in this checklist.
And remember, take the time you need to find the right home for you and your family. Don’t rush the process.
Instead, have fun through every part of the journey. Looking back, you’ll be glad you did!