Choosing your first home.

December 24, 2018

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First Time Home Buyer-

How do I choose my first home?

The best answer to this question is to give me a call and make an appointment for a buyers consultation, so that I can walk you through the entire process and help you find the home that is perfect for you.

The truth of the matter is that not all of you are going to make the great decision to work with me, and some of you are going to hire a weak agent that won’t give you the help that you need to make a good decision.

Since I still want you to have a 5 star home buying experience even if you make that unfortunate choice, I am going to take the time to break it down for you.

AFFORDABILITY– The first step is always to check your finances and to get preapproved for a mortgage. I wont go into that in too much detail because financing and getting preapproved is a whole article on its own. Suffice it to say, that this is a hugely important part of the process, and any professional Realtor will put you on this path.

I do want to state that the reason for getting preapproved, is so that you start out with the knowledge of what you can afford, so that you don’t make the mistake of falling in love with a home that is way out of your price range. If you do make that mistake, it will make it very difficult to fairly assess homes that better fit your budget.

THE PROCESS– So you went through preappproval and know what you can afford. The next thing is to think about what you want.

I ask my clients to spend a couple of days making a list of everything they think they would like in a house, and then to pick out three to seven of them that are must haves. This enables us to reduce the 11,000 to 15,000 houses that are currently in market to a much more manageable number.

Once I generate a list, usually narrowed to less than 30 properties by using my clients criteria; I ask the client to go over the new list and narrow it to their favorite 5-10 properties and then show those properties to the client.

Typically, we will find the buyers new home that first trip out, but sometimes we learn more about the buyers tastes and start again. This process seldom takes more than two trips out to find the home my client wants. If not, it is time to start talking about building. (new home construction info here)

Knowing that this is the process, your next question is likely to be; “What features of a home do I want to put on that list?”. The answer is different for every person shopping for a new home, but here are some things to consider.

LOCATION– For some people, and always for the market; location can be key. Whether you want the lowest crime rate, the hippest part of town, the best schools, shopping possibilities, suburban or city life, nearby parks, or maybe just staying close to relatives; location is likely going to drive your home purchasing more than any other factor other than financing availability. Speaking of which, if location is not a huge factor for you, areas that have fallen out of favor for one reason or another are frequently a great way to get a lot more home for your money than buying in that hip part of town I mentioned earlier.

HOME SIZE AND ROOMS– This is an area that I find many people misjudge. It seems to me that many buyers automatically want the most house they can convince their mortgage broker to finance. The more I deal with second and third time home buyers, the more I find that experienced buyers tend to go with smaller, more manageable homes. This may or may not apply to you, but here a couple of things that you can think about when making that decision.

First is always cost. Large homes can be expensive to maintain. I don’t mean just to heat or cool either. Replacing a roof goes up exponentially with more square footage. More rooms mean more repainting, more flooring, more cleaning and what usually end up being unused rooms. All of these things add more to your bottom line costs and may not benefit you as much as you hoped.

The next factor for home size is simply size of your family. Obviously if you have 6 children, a two bedroom condo is not going to lead to a comfortable home. Likewise, if you are single or are a couple without children; that 4000 square foot, 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom home may be more than you want to take on. On the other hand, you may have hobbies which would require additional rooms… but those are both things to consider.

Another consideration for home size is how you see yourself socially. I don’t mean this with regard to your station in life and that you need a huge home so that the Jones’ don’t keep up. I mean it more as whether or not you are someone who likes to entertain. If you are, then a great room in addition to a family or living room and a formal dining room may just be a must. Then again, if you are less social, then a single living room and an eat in kitchen may suit you better. To continue down the hosting path, an extra bedroom and bathroom might be something you need if you intend to have overnight guests.

LOT SIZE– This is an area that most buyers don’t pay attention in my opinion, but it has a great impact on your quality of life. When thinking about lot size there are several things you want to think about. Do you have pets that need lots of running room? (That 150 pound dog isn’t going to like your 1/10 of an acre yard near as much as it will love a half acre lot to stretch its legs.) Do you want to host cook outs? Do you want your kids to have a large yard to play in? Do you garden? Do you want to avoid having to mow a large yard? These and dozens of other questions need to be reviewed before making this decision. This one needs a closer look than most people give it.

HOA or NOT- For some people, a tightly regulated community that ensures the neighbors work together to maintain home prices is not just desired, but insisted upon. For others, being able to use their property freely and without interference is more important. You need to know which of these categories fits you best, and how flexible you are in that viewpoint.

THE AMENITIES– Some of these things are more wants than needs, but some of those wants may be very important to you. Do you love to cook and need a kitchen fit for a chef? Are huge closets something you just have to have? How about a fireplace? Is a well constructed three tier deck a necessity? What about an in ground pool? Is a fully brick home a requirement or do you prefer siding? Have you ever thought every home needs a sunroom? How about skylights? Single story, or do you like having a second or even third floor? Want a home with a loft? Lakefront, along a river or surrounded by dry land? There are literally hundreds of options to consider. Don’t chew on this too hard, if it is something that you really want it will come to you. Anything that doesn’t mean that much to you will just complicate your home search unnecessarily.

CONDITION of the HOME– Chances are that if you are a first time home buyer, you shouldn’t be considering a fixer upper. Then again, you may be a handy man (or woman) who just hasn’t taken on home ownership until now. Whatever the case may be, give careful consideration to your skill sets and access to repair contractors before you buy a home that needs some work. Then again, if you have the right skill sets and time, giving up move in ready in favor of a home that needs some TLC can result in finding some very good bargains. A quality Realtor will be very helpful in helping you determine which updates are important to have and which ones can be fixed later at better than the adjusted market price.

CONCLUSION- If you give proper attention to theses factors, you will be miles ahead of most clients when you first contact me to help find your home. You will also have a better chance of being happy in the home that I help you buy.

Now that you are armed with this information, you are ready to reach out and set up your FREE home buyers consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.