Choosing the right home

Dated: September 12 2019

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Thinking about owning your own home is one of the most intense and exciting moments, now that it seems that everyone is finding run-down gems and flipping these rocks into diamonds and making money.  It’s easy to get enamored with a home, when the inner handyman comes out in you, not taking into account cost, time, skill and actual willingness to do the work. To avoid that unfortunate scenario, first-time buyers will need to think carefully and weigh all of their options. Talk to your realtor and discuss all of these factors. He will be able to give you all the facts about the home so you can make the best decision. Some renovations although very nice, do not add value to a home and only return a portion of the funds you invest.


First and foremost, you need a home that you can afford. There’s no sense in looking for homes in a $300,000 dollar range when all you can afford is $200,000. You will need to go through the entire process of getting pre-approved for a mortgage before you can start even considering what you want. Your realtor can put you in touch with the right mortgage lender for your situation. Your mortgage broker will discuss with you what your ceiling will be for your home. Just because you can purchase that expensive home does not mean you should. Think about how much mortgage you willing to pay and still maintain your lifestyle. If all you are doing is working to pay for the mortgage, it won’t be long before you’re miserable. There are mortgage calculators and other tools online that can be useful, and it’s almost always helpful to talk to a real estate professional, like a mortgage broker or a realtor, so you can get a realistic idea of what you might need to spend and what you can spend on your new home.


You know what size your household is and whether it’s likely to grow in the future. You also know how much space you’re likely to need based on your own current household’s configuration, if you work from home, then your desire for a little more space and a room for a home office might be non-negotiable, whereas if you’re used to commuting to an office every day, you may not need a home office at all. So get a handle on the minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need in any home you buy. Be realistic with what you can afford. If you are working with a limited budget then you might want to lower your expectation. If this is your first home, keep in mind that most homeowners move in 8 years. They use the equity built up during those years to purchase their forever home. If you can, try to come up with some parameters for square footage, too. And you may want to think about your overall lot size if, for example, you’re an avid gardener or you have large dogs who’ll need some space to romp in the yard.


Once you understand your basic requirements for a home, you can start thinking about additional features that you’d like it to have. Perhaps you want a garage to store your tools, or a fenced-in yard for the dogs or a deck where you can layout and soak up some sun on weekends. You should also think about the ideal heating and cooling setup in any home you buy, and it’s also wise to consider the school district because even if you don’t have kids, it’s smart to keep in mind any buyers who could purchase your home from you in the future they might have kids. Keep a list of wants and needs. Be honest with yourself when you make this list out. 


Smart first-time buyers will want to think beyond a school district when choosing a home. How close is your home to major highways in the area? If it is too close then you have a lot of noise. If it is too far away then it might take longer to get around town. How close are you to work, and what’s the shopping like? Are there parks or recreation centers nearby, and where are the grocery stores? You’re buying a neighborhood just as much as you’re buying a home, and unlike your home, there isn’t usually a lot you can do to change the neighborhood. So make sure you’re fully aware of what the area where you’re hoping to buy is like, both positive and negative, and understand how that’s going to affect your life. I recommend driving by during the evening just to see what is going on in the neighborhood. There might be a Frat house just a few doors down the road. Keep in mind if that you may choose to sell your home down the road and you will want your home to be able to fill all those boxes for a potential buyer.


It’s really easy to fall in love with one part of a home and allow it to cloud your vision. Maybe that kitchen is perfect for parties, but if there are not enough bedrooms or bathrooms in the home, then you’ll regret the purchase soon after you move in. Try to look beyond trims and finishes to focus on the aspects of the home that are fixed and unchanging, like the lot size or the location of the property.  A real estate professional can help you figure out if a house that you think is just OK today might actually be your dream home in disguise. You can change out carpeting for hardwood floors and redo a kitchen over time, but if your heart is set on a large property you will never be satisfied. Take a long look at the HOA (Homeowners association) and their restrictions. Some HOA’s have tight restrictions that may not be to your liking. They keep the neighborhood looking good but may keep you jumping through hoops just repaint your house the same exact color.


If you’re faced with a choice between a home that seems like a bargain but requires some fixing-up and a home that’s more expensive but requires little or no work, which should you choose? In general, you probably want to opt for paying more out-of-pocket today for a home that’s still standing solidly tomorrow. There might be a good reason why that home is listed at a “bargain” price, it might be too expensive and time-consuming for anyone to reasonably fix. You don’t want to buy a money pit for the sake of buying a bargain.


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Fernando Jimenez

Fernando started his love for real estate when he was just eighteen years old. He worked for National Blueprint Co. for eight years. While working inside sales, he was able to meet Architects, Enginee....

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