It is our privilege to introduce guest writer Teresa Bennett. Teresa just bought a home and is here to share some of the things she wished she knew at the beginning of her home-buying journey!
We all get swept up in the excitement of searching for a new home, but have you stopped to consider the more practical aspects of your move? What’s your ideal location? What is the upper limit of your budget? What are you willing to compromise on? What about the market? And are you ready to walk away from your dream home?
These are just a few of the things you should be thinking about when searching for your new property. House hunting relies as much on strategy as it does on luck, so we recommend considering every aspect that plays into the process before you dive in.
1. Is it a seller’s market or a buyer’s market?
The very first thing you need to determine and factor into your search is whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. A buyer’s market means there are more homes for sale than there are buyers, so you have leverage. You can afford to be picky, and sellers are more likely to concede to a lower price.
On the opposite end, a seller’s market means that there are more buyers than there are homes for sale, which means sellers have the upper hand, the market is competitive, and you’re probably going to have to make offers above asking price. You may even have to get into bidding wars.
We recommend scouting as many properties in the area as possible in order to accurately determine what the market is like. This is the most important aspect to consider, before anything else, because it informs every decision you make, where you look, and what your offers are like.
2. Don’t fall in love with the first house you see
First time buyers are especially likely to do this because they’re excited and inexperienced. You see a house and it seems perfect – you get wrapped up in the excitement and overlook flaws, an inflated price tag, or red flags about the property.
Don’t cut your search short just because the first home seems good enough. There’s always better out there and by settling, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to find the perfect home. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be purchasing in a buyer’s market, take your time and shop around. It’s much less likely that you will have your supposed perfect home stolen from under your nose.
3. What are your deal-breakers?
Before they start looking, most people focus on their must-haves, but have you considered what your deal-breakers are? What are the things that you find absolutely unacceptable and that would push you to call the deal off? Is it a house that requires extensive repairs? Noisy neighbors? A bad area?
Deal-breakers are just as important as your must-haves, because you feel equally as strong about them. But they tend to slip our mind when we’re excited about everything else. If one aspect of a property would ruin it for you, we recommend you keep your eyes peeled for that potential element that you might come to regret.
4. Always be ready to walk away
One of the huge mistakes buyers make is that they let on just how much they love the house. It feels amazing to find your potential new home, but keep your eyes open – sellers and real estate agents will be looking to take advantage of that excitement.
The moment you reveal that you love the house, you’re shifting the balance of power because the buyer now has leverage. That’s why you should treat every viewing the same way and rein in your reactions.
Most importantly, you need to be ready to walk away. With 39 million Americans overpaying for their homes, according to Business Insider, that is your most important negotiation tactic. It will ensure that you never go over budget or are taken advantage of.
5. View the house at different times of day
Another thing buyers often overlook is that the environment and circumstances of viewing a property may influence their opinion. The home you viewed yesterday morning may seem like it’s in a great neighborhood.
But drop by in the evening later in the week – does it still seem great? Is it quiet? Are any of the neighbors blasting music? How busy is the road? You can never truly get a sense of a property until you’ve seen it at different times of day, to make sure that it still fits your ideals.
6. Does it accommodate your work?
Perhaps one of the most important things about your new abode is how it’s going to play into your work situation. If the house makes your work difficult, it may be the perfect home…for someone else. So, ask yourself a few questions: Is the area nice, but far away from the office? How is the commute? Is the highway super busy after 5 pm?
If you work from home, is there enough space for an office for you? Is your internet connection strong enough to sustain smooth remote work? Perhaps you’re running a business from home – do you have storage space for your merchandise? Are you receiving clients in this space at all?
7. Have a chat with the neighbors
When you think about it, your neighbors are a big part of what makes your experience living somewhere positive or negative. You’ve got to live next door whether you like it or not, so having great neighbors is a huge plus.
That’s why we recommend knocking on some doors and having a chat with some of the residents when you’re viewing a home. What are they like? Do they seem like nice folks? Do they like the neighborhood? That can give you a pretty good idea of the type of community this is.
Plus, you can get the scoop on the previous owners of the home you want to buy. Is the price fair? Are they being truthful? Why are they moving away? It can be valuable information you can use to your advantage.
Your first home is, probably, the most exciting purchase of your life. The one you’re the most proud of, the one you love the most. It’s understandable that you’d want to fly through the process, but it’s important to stop for a moment and think about the practical matters you may have overlooked.
Have you considered whether your neighbors are nice? What about your deal-breakers? Is the house still as perfect at nighttime as it was during the day? You always want to walk into a house viewing holding all the cards and having all the information, so don’t overlook important steps. They might make the difference between your perfect home and one that is less than.