Have you ever experienced cereal aisle paralysis? You’re standing in the grocery store with what seems like hundreds of cereal options, and there is so much to choose from, you don’t even know where to begin.
The housing market can be a lot like the cereal aisle – there are so many choices, but not all of them are right for you. The following tips are a starting point to help you choose what to look for in a new home.
Make Your List and Check it Twice!
Make a list of your must-haves and wants. This criteria will help you (and your realtor) rule out specific properties. If you want a backyard, for example, then the condo across town without a yard is a deal-breaker. Cosmetic criteria probably rank a bit lower on the list, though. You don’t want to rule out a home with all your must-haves just because the paint color isn’t to your taste. Paint is definitely a factor but is fairly easily changed.
The list will also help in the decision stage once you’ve found a few options. If two homes are neck-and-neck but one has more items checked off on the wants list, then the decision will be easier!
Location, Location, Location
One thing you cannot change about a house is its location. This is a major factor to consider when buying a home. Use your GPS to see how far the house is from your work, best friend’s house, in-laws’ home, and the local grocery store. The home may be amazing, but if you’re not willing to drive twenty minutes to get where you need, then it’s not the home for you!
Google Maps can also be helpful in discovering what may be unfavorable about a house’s location. Are there train tracks nearby that might prove vexing at 3AM when you’re trying to sleep? Perhaps there is a nearby factory or garbage dump that would leak out unpleasant smells from time to time.
Ask your realtor or the sellers about development plans for the area. Perhaps right now there is empty land across the street from your potential new home, but in the next year it will be developed into a highway. Those insights could affect your purchasing decision.
Check Out the Roof and HVAC
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Asking about the age and state of both the roof and the HVAC systems is vital. Depending on the age of the home, any one of these – or perhaps several – would need to be replaced or updated in the first few years of your residence. Changing out those systems can cost a pretty penny, which would need to be factored in during negotiation or might be a deal-breaker altogether. Additionally, older systems can mean higher insurance costs so that better deal on the home may not mean much if you have to pay hundreds more per year in extra insurance premiums.
When touring a house, some people get shy about really poking around and trying everything out. But if you only have 20 minutes to see a place before deciding to make an offer, you need to test everything. Turn on all the sinks, flip on the light switches, and turn on the garbage disposal. How long does it take for hot water to come out of the faucet? How many settings does the fan have? Are there several light switches for the same light? The answers to these questions will help you get a feel for the house as a whole.
For more tips, check out this article on the 10 things to consider when buying a house.