Launching a search for your next home can be a daunting prospect — especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. It’s not only a life-changing decision that will have “ripple effects” for years to come, but it’s also one of the largest financial commitments you’ll every make. So there is a little “pressure” associated with this choice!
The good news is that once you’re approved for a mortgage and you know what you want (and can afford) in your next home, then the actual searching part should be a “piece of cake!” Well, as you can imagine, things can and sometimes DO go wrong along the way, but there are effective strategies for simplifying the process and increasing the probability that you’ll be delighted with the house you finally close on.
Identify Your Priorities
Knowing what your priorities are and being familiar with all the different features you’ll need to evaluate are the first steps to a successful house-hunting campaign. Your real estate agent can be enormously helpful in asking you the right questions, pinpointing your preferences, and guiding you toward the house that will offer the best combination of features, qualities, and characteristics.
Rarely will you find the property that is absolutely perfect in every imaginable way, but when you’re clear about the important things you’re not willing to compromise on, your final choice is bound to be one that fulfills your requirements and makes you happy! Also keep in mind that once you’re the owner, you can customize, decorate, and landscape that home to become whatever you want it to be. Perhaps the only two things that are set in stone are the location and the proximity of the house to neighbors.
I don’t know whether this saying has been attributed to any particular person, but it contains a lot of truth about achieving goals, attaining happiness, and finding the home of your dreams: “If you don’t know exactly what you want, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to find it!” That holds true whether you’re looking for the ideal job, home, or life partner.
So the question is “How can you zero in on what you need, want, and would find the most satisfying in a house?” Your real estate agent can help you create a priority list or provide you with a boilerplate list that you can work from. If you haven’t chosen an agent yet, there is a free home-buying checklist available from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
There are literally dozens of items you’ll factor into your home-buying decision, including the square footage, the quality of the neighborhood, the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, the condition of the roof, electrical, and mechanical systems, the size of the backyard, proximity to neighbors, and whether it’s conveniently located near supermarkets, medical offices, parks, recreation, good schools, transportation, highways, entertainment, shopping, and much more. The bottom line is this: When you’re organized, focused, and clear about what you’re looking for in a new home, you’re well positioned for a successful outcome!