We recently spent five months buying our latest home and I would like to share some thoughts for you to consider.
Now this is not our first go round, as we have been at this for over thirty years and have had four other homes. We know more than we did the first time, have learned something different with each one and have taken that knowledge along on this journey.
DECIDE WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT
Do you want a view, room to grow, a pool? Do you want three bedrooms or four? Do you want to live close to the city, in a house or apartment? How much money do you have to spend? All will determine where and what you can buy.
NARROW YOUR SEARCH
Homes take work!
Consider looking in three or four different areas, giving you more choice. They can be close together or spaced out. Determine what the traffic is like as this could be part of your drive every day. Going to open houses will give you this sense and also help you familiarise yourself with the neighbourhood.
MEETING A REALTOR
Are you prepared to do the work?
Open homes are a good way to meet agents. They can let you know when new houses hit the market and help you if you have time constraints. You also get to see if they are a good fit with you and if you like their philosophy on how they sell.
BE PATIENT AND FLEXIBLE
Determine your important needs - transportation, schools, outdoor activities, dog walking, services, doctors, and shopping.
Maybe you want to live in the city!
Know that once you start, what you think you want in the beginning may change and morph over time and not be what you end up with.
Check out houses for sale at realestate.com
and be prepared to go and see them. Then narrow the field. It is amazing what can be left out of a picture.
What don't you like about an area? Is it too old, the houses aren't quite what you want, or maybe you can find it in another area for less money?
Maybe you want to be farther out!
Don't be afraid to compromise! You will find the process easier. Know that you can make it your own once you own it.
Give yourself a timeline - three months to narrow the field and then two months to keep a watch on things is a good amount of time.
Don't fall in love with a pretty face or a pretty view! It is way too easy.
Be prepared to ask questions and look at the bones of the house - is it sturdy, does it need work, does it have asbestos, termites, electrical issues? Can you live in if for a while before you do any work? Are you prepared to do the work?
Are you handy or shy away from home improvements?
Come back for a second viewing before you decide. I can't stress how important this is. It is hard to walk away from your first view but you can go back and look at it with practical eyes the second time. You will be happy you did.
We found a house with an amazing view. We were convinced this was the one until we went back a second time. We did not buy the house as it needed about $175,000 worth of work that we did not want to do.
If you can keep yourself from jumping in with both feet, you will find something that you like that can turn to love. And you will be happy with the area, the commute, the schools and everything else you want in the hood. Then you can get back to the business of enjoying the things you find on WeekendNotes to do on the weekend.