Planning to buy a home? Here are some things to be aware of:
1. Lender: Step one – meet with a lender FIRST to find out if you qualify to buy and how much you can afford.
2. Income: Spending no more than one fourth of your income for your home is best. That way you can afford other expenses and, hopefully, keep your home if one partner loses their job.
3. Plan ahead: Make a wish list. Start with what would you love in your home, then narrow down to what you must have. For example, a fireplace is an absolute must have for me. I don’t bother looking at homes without one because I would not be happy living without a fireplace. Minor? Maybe, but not to me.
4. Location: Do you need to be close to work, to schools, to restaurants, to movie theaters? What’s important to your lifestyle? A little extra driving to work may seem like only a minor inconvenience when you find a home you love further out than you’d planned. But, after six months of driving that extra 25 minutes each way, you may not be thrilled with the idea of living in that location for the next 5-10 years. And, what’s it like to get home at rush hour?
5. Schools: I’ve had people say, “oh, we don’t care about the schools, we don’t have children.” Well, you may someday. And, even if they’re grown and gone, good school districts are a huge influence on how quickly you’ll be able to sell your home later.
6. Sunlight: Drive by the house you’re considering at different times of the day. Where does the sun shine into the windows at different times? Do you want plants to bloom in your family room? If so, the room better get plenty of light! Sunlight also impacts things like moss and mold growth.
7. Noise: If the neighborhood is quiet at 10am when you view it with your realtor, is it still quiet at 4pm when the kids are all home from school? What is it like in the evenings?
8. Closing Costs: Get good information about all of your closing costs to avoid surprises at the closing table. Surprises at closing are, unfortunately, not uncommon.
9. Move-in/Ownership Costs: Remember move-in costs like window treatments, carpets, shower curtains. Do you need to immediately buy a refrigerator? And don’t forget additional monthly expenses that may not show up on your buying estimates like: taxes, homeowners dues, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc.
10. Repairs: Nine times out of 10, there will be repair costs. No home is perfect. Doors may not shut (or stay open), faucets may drip, toilets may run. Expect to find a number of fairly minor annoyances that you will want to fix when you begin living in your new home.
Buying a home is an exciting time. It can also be stressful! Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid some of the stress.
What can you add? What did you learn?