You’ve probably heard more than once that today’s perfect storm of low prices, high inventory, and affordable interest rates are making this the right time for you to buy that home you’ve always wanted. As you begin to shop around, however, there are several important criteria to consider in order to make the best choice for you and your family.
Discuss the following with your real estate agent before you begin looking for a home. This will help narrow down the choices and shorten the search process:
Type of home: One-story or two, single-family, duplex or condo? How will paying homeowner dues affect your overall buying power? Will a swimming pool be a bonus or a hindrance? Making these decisions in advance will help you focus on the right types of home to look at.
New or existing: A new home is all shiny and clean, but will carry with it some hefty initial costs such as landscaping and window coverings. Many builders are offering great deals on new homes that aren’t yet in move-in condition. Weigh the potential bargain against the costs involved in completing the home on your own. While these factors don’t come into play with existing homes, you need to assess its general condition, which will also impact your budget.
Features: Weigh the costs of gas vs. electric heating and cooling, the possible need for fencing, etc. How important is a fireplace? Does the home have enough bedrooms and bathrooms to support your family in the coming years?
Ease of maintenance: What is the condition of the roof? The appliances? Will you have to paint the interior or exterior and/or replace the carpeting? Be sure to factor in such costs in your budget and your negotiations.
Location: For many of today’s home buyers, it’s all about lifestyle. Do you want to be in the city or in the country? Nearer to libraries, parks and entertainment or set among tall trees and lakes? What about the need for public transportation? Nearby hospitals and schools?
Crime rate and public schools: Check with local enforcement and local residents to get a feeling for statistics and quality. Your real estate agent should be able to run detailed crime and school reports for your perusal.
Property tax: Examine the annual amount of real estate taxes and other assessments levied in the neighborhoods you are considering.