1. Choosing a Real Estate Agent
There are many realtors to choose from. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations. We also have a partnership with many realtors we trust. You are looking for a Buyer’s realtor that has the experience, knows the area well, and has resources at their disposal. They may get notices of property listings before they are even advertised. They are concerned with your best interests, not the sellers.
An experienced Buyer’s Agent can assist you in skillfully negotiating the purchase price of your home and should also have a list of home inspection companies, moving companies, handymen, and other services that they can recommend. Best of all, a Buyer’s Agent doesn’t cost the buyer anything. They get paid out of the Listing Agent’s commissions.
2. Home Size and Use of Space
The next step is determining what size house you need, including the number of bedrooms and baths. Are you expecting to grow your family or are you empty-nesters? If you desire a yard, then a condo may not work for you. If you can’t manage steps, then a townhome is not for you. Would you consider getting a fixer-upper and then doing some repairs and remodeling, or do you need something move-in ready? Would you prefer furnished or unfurnished? Do you absolutely need a home office? Swimming pool or a shady lanai? Providing your realtor with a list of NEEDS and then a list of WANTS could be the best approach. You don’t want to waste your time touring homes that won’t meet all the items on your “Needs List”.
3. Location, Location, Location!
What is the neighborhood like? Are you searching for a family neighborhood with lots of kids, or a quiet street? What is the speed limit on the street? Is it a cut-through street or a dead end? Is it near a noisy stadium or bars with outside entertainment? Is there a vacant lot by your home that is zoned for commercial or agricultural use? Crime statistics, good schools and bus transportation, commuting time to work, age and condition of the other homes in the area, and Home Owners Association rules are more things to consider. If you are looking for a home in a managed community, they may not allow company trucks or boats in your driveway, street parking, certain dog breeds, swing sets or basketball goals, or a change in your home’s paint color, along with other restrictions, so make sure to ask your realtor these questions.
Next, you may also want to consider what you like to do in your spare time and what amenities may be nearby. Do you crave a Starbucks coffee every morning, want to belong to a gym, need a playground for the kids, maybe a dog park, walking and jogging trails, close to the beach or the airport, or great shopping and restaurants?
Also, ask your realtor about the property taxes in that county and if the home is on sewer or septic, has well or city water, or has any special assessments. A septic system has to have regular maintenance, whereas a sewer system does not. A well may need a new pump someday. These may be additional expenses that will have to be considered.
4. Your Emotional Readiness
Buying a home is a huge commitment. A homeowner needs to think about their job security, how long they plan to stay in the area, and if their employer might require them to relocate or if they plan to retire soon. If you like to travel, you may need a house-sitter or someone to take care of your lawn while you are away or inspect for pests or damage. Depending on the age of your home, sooner or later you will need to re-paint, update appliances, and get a new roof or a new air-conditioning system. You might also have other personal expenses in the future like needing a newer car, having a baby, your children’s college or weddings, your retirement, and other family events.
Owning your own home is often a lifelong goal and can be very rewarding. After reading about everything that goes into buying a home, do you feel more excited – or more stressed? You may not be ready to be a homeowner yet, or this could be the perfect time to make that life change. Only you can know that answer.