Like any big decision, buying a home can be scary. It’s important to break it down to steps. Remember, this is a big commitment, but it doesn’t have to be forever. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life in the home you purchase, maybe just the next five years, more or less is up to you.
The first thing to consider is your budget, is how much can you afford. Speaking with a financial advisor, mortgage broker or banker can help you plan for your spending. Getting pre-approved for a loan can help you be realistic about what you can afford and also help you enter the bidding process quicker than competing buyers.
When determining a budget, don’t just think about the current structure you are buying. You could buy a fixer upper at a lower price, but what will the repairs cost? Can the repairs wait or do they require immediate attention and money?
When you’re looking at homes it’s important to know what you want and where you want it. Are you looking for a condo, town house, multifamily or single family home? Being flexible on these choices can open the door to more options. Finding a neighborhood you like can help get you into the right community. Know which parts of that neighborhood you like can give you an idea of other areas where you would also be happy to live. After you have chosen where you want your new home to be, think about what you want with the property.
Some questions to consider:
It is a good idea to consider not only what the house currently has for rooms, but also what the potential is. Could you finish the basement or turn the attic into a bedroom? Is there room on the property for an addition and would you be able to get the permits for that? Homes that are on or near wetlands have restrictions and you should know what those are before purchasing a major project home.
When it comes time for the home inspection, be sure that you have chosen someone you trust. Some home inspectors are more thorough than others. Knowing the history of the building can give you a good idea of what the current state of the home is. When was it built? Can you find out anything about the people that lived there?
Know what you are looking for in a home inspection. Although it is important to rely on professionals, it’s always good to have a basic understanding of what it means for your home to be in good condition. Use our DIY Home Inspection as a guide.
As you begin your home search it can be helpful to consult professionals. As you do you so, be sure that you are talking with people you trust and don’t feel pressured into buying a home if it’s not what you are looking for. Websites like Zillow and Trulia can be great resources too. Like everything, it’s always good to do your own research. Knowing what you want and what you can be flexible on can help keep more options open.
The following is a true story, adapted from a 1921 edition of the American Journal of Ophthalmology...