When you’re shopping for a new home, you can literally spend days, weeks and even months house hunting, reviewing listings, speaking to agents, yet ultimately left feeling like you're getting nowhere in your search. Surely the home of your dreams has got to be out there somewhere. Right?
Finding the home of your dreams can be daunting, but it is possible. And it is possible without making major sacrifices, too. I remember when I was house hunting a few years ago, I had looked at several homes, including one that was a definite possibility. But before we were through checking out homes for the day there was one last house: A quaint Cape Cod-style home that was listed as "a dollhouse--must see to appreciate". As soon as I walked in the door, I just knew it was perfect, and I had to have it. But the asking price was so low, there had to be something wrong. Faulty boiler? Leaky roof? Damp basement? Nuh-uh, nothing. The sellers were simply motivated.
We had a home inspection performed while we crossed our fingers and held our breath: There was no major work to be done on this home, it passed inspection with flying colors and I got the home of my dreams for a song. Much like my experience (and every other home buyer's), there are some very important things to think about before you hand over any money or sign any documents toward your home ownership. Here are 10 things to consider before you buy a new home.
10 Things To Consider Before Buying A New Home
#1: The Location Before you even step foot on a potential property, you will have worked out your ideal location (and neighborhood) with your real estate agent. If he or she tries to steer you in a different direction, listen to her suggestions but always stand firm on your wants and needs. Your ideal location may not be something you'll want to compromise.
#2: The Size Of The Home While your dream home checklist will no doubt include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you'd like, you should also have a ballpark figure on the amount of square footage you're looking for as well. If you're unsure, a quick internet search should be able to help. Look for a few homes in your idea location with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and style of home you're most interested in (for example, "4 bedroom, 3 bathroom Colonial") and see what the general consensus is for square footage. #3: The Condition Of The Home's Exterior Your home inspector will point out any repairs that need to be performed on the property before he gives his seal of approval, and this goes for your home's exterior as well. However, you have to take into consideration what your house is cladded in. Vinyl siding will last longer than wood shingles and brick and stone may last longer than vinyl siding. Wood-framed windows almost always need upgrading to vinyl. And a wooden deck can splinter and show signs of wood rot. Be sure to check out the roof, and take into consideration its age. #4: Know Your Style And Taste Before you make an offer on a home, be sure you're happy with the architecture. Is it a style of home that you can live with for what could be the rest of your life? If you lean toward a more modern and simplistic style of architecture, changes are you won't be happy living in a home full of wooden floors and shiplap walls.
#5: The Insulation If the house you’re looking at doesn’t have adequate insulation, then chances are you're going to pay extra on heating and cooling bills, not to mention an increase in your carbon footprint. Make sure you consider whether the home is adequately insulated enough for you (insulated spaces will include the attic, basement and windows) before making your final decision.
#6: The Home's Utilities Any known issues with a home's electrical system, HVAC, gas, water and other utilities should be disclosed by the seller, as chances are your home inspector will find them anyway. What to look for? An electrical system that's up to code, for one. An efficient furnace that's up to date, serviced regularly and in good shape is another. Water pipes that are free from leaks with no noticeable water damage, and anything that smells unpleasant, like gas, garbage or sewage is no bueno.
#7. The Cost Of Any Potential Repairs If your home inspector finds that the house is need of repairs, you will want to work with the seller on how to best handle this. Depending on the extent of the repairs, you can either ask the seller to fix them prior to closing, or lower the sales price. If the damage or repairs are negligible, you can try asking for credits on your closing costs instead. If the damage or repairs are extensive and / or the seller won't negotiate, you should be able to back out of the sale altogether. Just be sure your contract has a contingency clause in place for home inspections.
#8: The Storage Space When choosing a new home, be sure you have a wish list of items you want your new home to have. This might include hardwood floors, a fireplace, a swimming pool and the like, but most importantly, your wish list should include adequate storage space. And we're not just talking about an attic or a basement; you need to be sure that there are plenty of closets, shelves, kitchen cabinets and perhaps a pantry sufficient enough to meet your needs.
#9: The Sunlight While it may seem like a odd thing to consider, it’s important to see what areas of the home receive the most (and the least) sunlight. Additionally, the benefits of natural light on one's psyche are immeasurable. Let's face it: Unless you're Morticia Addams, who wants to purchase a dark and gloomy house?
#10: The Moving Costs If you're lucky and moving for work, your company may allow a stipend for your moving expenses. This is a HUGE help when it comes to hiring movers and purchasing packing materials. But chances are you're just moving house on your own accord, and for this reason you'll have to think about factoring moving costs into your budget.
Want even more tips? Check out this infographic for 8 more essential house hunting tips for home buyers!