Finding a new home is a very exciting process. It can be overwhelming also. Here are some guidelines to set your search on a friendly and strategic course:
First, narrow down the process. Keeping in mind the points that follow will help you navigate from dream to goal:
- First, determine your budget, needs and tastes. This will help you keep in mind which features are essential for you and which are negotiable.
- Identify the neighborhood(s) that most appeal to you.
- Single out ideal houses in each neighborhood.
When narrowing down your home search, consider:
- Home purchase considerations
- Types of Homes
- Home comparison
- What to do when you’ve found the right home
Home purchase considerations
Once a neighborhood was chosen, most buyers’ first consideration is the number of bedrooms. However, also keep the following purchase and resale considerations in mind:
- Weigh your needs, budget and tastes. Are you looking for:
- An older home?
- A newly constructed home?
- A fixer-upper?
- One-bedroom condos are more difficult to resell than two-bedroom ones.
- Two-bedroom/one-bath single houses generally have less appreciation potential than houses with three or more bedrooms.
- Homes with “curb appeal” (a well-maintained, attractive appearance from the street) are the easiest to resell.
- When resale is a possibility, don’t buy the most expensive or unusual house on the street. The best investment potential is traditionally found in a less expensive, more moderately sized home.
Types of homes:
- Single-family homes: One home per lot.
- Multifamily homes: To take advantage of rental income to help with their costs, many first-timers buyers start with multiple family dwellings. Many mortgage plans can be used for buildings with up to four units, if the buyer intends to occupy one of them.
- Condominiums: With a condo, you own “from the plaster in” just as you would a single house. You also own a certain percentage of the “common elements” — staircases, sidewalks, roofs and the like. Monthly charges pay your share of taxes and insurance on those elements, as well as repairs and maintenance. A homeowners association administers the development.
- Co-ops: Cooperative apartments are common in some areas. With these, you purchase shares in a corporation that owns the whole building and you receive a lease to your own apartment. A board of directors supervises management. Monthly charges include your share of an overall mortgage on the building.
While house hunting, take the time to write down key elements, features, personal impressions and questions pertaining to each house you visit. This will be an invaluable tool for you as it will allow you to compare properties and organize your thoughts in the narrowing down process.
When you’ve found the right home
Be prepared to act promptly when you find the right house. Remember that other home buyers may be home shopping at the same time as you are and may very well make their offer while you continue to weigh the pros and cons.
Clarifying your needs and wishes before you start prepares you to act decisively. This is important especially for new listings and reduced-price properties, since both receive increased attention.
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