There are few things in this world as emotional as buying a home, and this is not just for first time buyers; this is any time you purchase a house. It is a flurry of feelings from excitement and anticipation to anxiety and concern, each fighting to get your attention to figure out which house you should buy. Before you sign for the home mortgage, take a moment to let logic weigh in to see if this house truly is the perfect one for you.
One of the most common mistakes people make when buying a home is that they fall in love with a house they can’t afford, which sets up a whole host of issues. To prevent this, as soon as you decide you want to purchase a house, and before you even contact a realtor, get pre-approved for a loan. This will determine your price range and keep you from getting your heart broken over homes you can’t afford. Once you know your price range, start at the low end of it. You may be surprised at what you can get, plus it’s easier to go up in price rather than down.
Since this is likely to be one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make, you need to get organized and decide what is truly a want versus a need. If you want a swimming pool, but have toddlers or can’t afford the upkeep, even though it’s beautiful and you really want it, your checklist will remind you that you don’t need it, no matter how much your heart is telling you that you do.
Here are more tips to help you prioritize your needs so you get the house that is perfect for you:
Location, Location, Location – It is the mantra of the real estate industry, and one you should adhere to. You can always change the condition of a house, but you can’t move it, so, if it is too far from work or in a neighborhood that is full of swing sets, and your plans don’t include changing jobs or having a family, it is probably not the right house for you. Remember what is, and stay focused.
Condition versus Charm – The cracks in the wall of a home are generally not charming, and they are more indicative of a home repair, so it’s important you do not over-estimate your handyman skills. It’s one thing to fix a few wall pops, but another if the home needs a new roof. Know when you are out of your league, and need professional help for fixes—can you afford them?—and know when to say it’s too much for you to take on. Other things to factor in are the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of the kitchen, and whether the overall size of the home will work for you and if it has other amenities you may want, like central air conditioning.
Get Your Geek On – Make an Excel chart or get a clipboard that has all the things you want in a home, and bring it with you for every tour. You will probably view several homes, and it gets confusing pretty quickly, so, while the check list helps, ask if you can take pictures, measurements, sketch layouts, and anything else you need to help you remember the home and help you decide if it’s the one for you. Don’t forget to open doors, peek behind curtains and under rugs, turn on a faucet to see about water pressure, or anything else that may be of concern to you.
Feeling Warm and Fuzzy – Now is the time to check in with your heart about how you felt about the house. Did you get a good feeling about the home, were you mentally arranging the furniture in it, did it speak to you? If it met all the criteria above, and you got that feeling about it, chances are it’s the one for you.
There is no question that buying a home can be a fun and scary process, because there is so much at stake. It’s more than finding the right home and getting a home mortgage loan; it’s where you plan to live and create memories, so making a good decision on paper that fits with your feelings is the best path to finding the right home for you.