The choice to buy a home over renting will change your life forever. The steps you take to find and purchase a home will determine whether that change is a good one, or one that you will regret for years to come. With so much on the line when purchasing a residential property, it’s important to think beyond the ordinary factors of home ownership and take a wider view on things to consider when buying your home.
The one phrase you will hear over and over when researching real estate is location, location, location. The area you choose to buy your home in will not only affect the lifestyle you live and your family’s safety, but also the value of your home in the future. However, simply trusting in the opinion of your real estate agent or looking at other home sales in the area’s not enough to truly determine whether the location of a potential home is right for you.
Take time to not only see the property during the day, but also visit the property at night. Hear the sounds, view the neighborhood and look for warning signs, like criminal activity or late night barking dogs. View the property on both weekdays and weekends as well. Take time to talk to the neighbors near the property. This not only gives you a first hand perspective of the neighborhood, but also allows you to gauge the personality and attitude of your future neighbors. Check out the surrounding blocks around the property. The homes in your block may look nice, but that does not mean that homes a few blocks away are as pleasant.
A common desire for those looking to purchase a home is space, especially if moving from an apartment to a home. However, how much space do you really need? Many home owners make the mistake of purchasing more home than they actually will use. Along with the additional time needed to upkeep a larger home, the additional money spent is wasted on space that you could have gone without. On the other hand, make sure you think about the future. If you plan to live in the home for several years, consider life changes that could happen during that time, such as the birth of a child or the need for an elderly parent to move in with you.
Finally, look beyond just the initial cost of buying the home. With a home comes a whole new set of monthly and yearly financial obligations that can vary from house to house and even between neighborhoods. Ask the home seller for the average monthly cost of utilities both in warmer and colder months. Costs can vary depending on how well of insulation the home has, as well as the types and models of heating and cooling equipment used. Also ask for not only the most recent property tax record, but the last few years if available. Comparing several years will show you just how often and by how much tax raises occur. Look at school districts and how much the schools rely on property taxes. These numbers will also help you determine whether you can expect regular tax increases. A thorough home inspection is essential. A home inspection determines whether all the home needs is a coat of paint, or whether after buying you’ll face thousands of dollars in repair and upgrades.
The home buying process can be scary, and even a little unpredictable. However, if you put in the time planning and doing your research before you buy a home, you will get to spend more of your time making memories instead of regrets after the house has closed.
Anna Dauksewicz writes all about finance and property management. Her recent work is on the Top 15 Accredited Online Colleges of 2014 for aspiring real estate moguls