Finding the Perfect Home for Sale
For most people, their homes are the largest purchases they ever make, so it pays to spend time finding one that will make you happy for years to come. The average person stays in a home for 13 years, and that's a long time to live somewhere you aren't truly happy.
The Solutions for Finding the Right Home for Sale
Before you start shopping for a house, nail down your budget. Get the financing in place, and know what you're dealing with in terms of down payments, interest rates, closing costs and monthly payments. This will keep you from shopping for houses that won't work for you financially.
When you get your financing pre-approved, shop within your budget. Find a realtor who has experience in the area you want to live in, as well as one who has personal ties to the community. Before you hit the trail and start house hunting, have a candid conversation with your realtor about what is essential (number of bedrooms, convenience to work, things you can't compromise on), as well as the things you'd like (a screened-in porch or fireplace, things you'd like but can live without). Be sure they understand what you're looking for. Remember, you'll almost always have to make some kind of compromise, so determine ahead of time what you're willing to live with or without and what you must have.
Give yourself plenty of time for house hunting. If you aren't rushed to get out of where you live, you'll be less likely to plunge into a decision you regret later. It's better to pay a higher rent and continue your lease month-to-month than to buy a home you aren't truly happy with in the long run.
When you find properties you like, refrain from getting too excited. Don't let your emotions overwhelm your ability to make reasonable assessments. Most house shoppers put offers on several houses before settling into one. Be willing to walk away from a bad deal, even if you love the house.
Before putting an offer on a house, spend some time on the property, as well as around the neighborhood. Go at different times of the day and week. Aside from the essentials, be sure you're happy being there. Do you like the view? Are the neighbors friendly and quiet? Does this neighborhood suit your lifestyle? Drive around and see what the community looks like (and sounds like) at midnight on Saturday, as well as at midday on Wednesday.
Don't limit yourself to new homes. Many older homes offer more amenities at a lower cost. Also, be flexible about things that are easy to fix, such as the condition of the carpet, paint and lawn. Things you can't be flexible about are the numbers of rooms, where the home is located and the structural integrity of the house.
Consider how your life is likely to change in the next decade or two. Buy a home you can grow in, especially if you foresee life changes, like getting married, opening a home office, having kids, moving aging parents in with you or having room for future nieces, nephews or grandchildren. Will this home work if you swap the economy car for a minivan, get a pet or decide to start a garden?
Tips for Finding the Ideal Home for Sale
Find a real estate agent you trust and enjoy working with. Your agent is going to be your lifeline in terms of finding good properties before everyone else does, placing bids on houses and negotiating with sellers. A good agent will also help you stay within your budget.
Other Considerations When Looking at a Home for Sale
Like buying diamonds, there are four Cs to consider when looking for the perfect house: cost, condition, capacity and convenience. If you keep these priorities in mind, it will help you keep your cool when a house seems perfect, yet you're overlooking some obvious flaws. Also, keeping your emotions out of the decision will help you cope when you don't get a house you've put in a bid for. Stay upbeat, and always look at houses with a critical eye. It's better to see the problems now and decide if you can live with them than to get into a money pit and lose your savings.
Creative Commons Image courtesy James Thompson via Flickr