The decision to buy a home is rarely an impulsive one. Hopeful home buyers who’ve decided they are ready to face the responsibilities of owning a home, along with the financial commitment involved, have usually given quite a bit of thought to which features they most desire. Of course other factors come into play, such as location, size, convenience, and maintenance requirements. Thanks to the large number of popular real estate and home improvement reality TV shows and the infinite amount of information available online, it is no surprise that today’s home buyers are quite opinionated about what they want in a residential property.
However, it is extremely easy to get caught up in the thrill of the hunt for the perfect house! That is why creating a personal checklist that details one’s individual requirements is a very important step. Although a checklist is a significant consideration, make sure you have determined your budget. Please factor in additional expenses such as closing costs, appraisals, attorney and inspection fees, insurance and taxes. Don’t forget the cost of moving and new furnishings!
Next, zero in on the neighborhood. Location is of supreme importance when committing to a home purchase. Before getting started, research which areas of town would be advantageous to your lifestyle in terms of their proximity to what is important to you such as work, school, mass transit, medical facilities, recreational, cultural, shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
When you choose an area, visit the neighborhood several times a day on both weekdays and weekends. If you only visit your prospective new house on the weekends, it will be a rude awakening when you realize your dream home is on the busiest commuter route in town!
When all of that is taken care of, it’s time to make your checklist and gather a few handy items that will make the process quick and easy. Here’s how:
Start with a Binder
In a 3-ring binder, create several pages that will enable you to evaluate each listing that you see. Those pages will include sections on square footage, number of rooms, condition of components such as the HVAC and roof, plus space for details about the neighborhood, etc.
Include Additional Supplies
In addition to the 3-ring binder that holds your checklist, it’s also nice to include graph paper, plastic photo pockets, and a measuring tape. Of course you’ll need a camera if there’s not already one on your phone. Before taking any photos or videos, ask permission from the seller and use them only for your personal use.
Envision Your Things in the Space
If you will be moving in to your new place with lots of things you already have in the way of furniture, do a little sketching and measuring to ensure things will fit.
Inspect the Home Thoroughly and Take Notes!
As you fill out your checklist form, dig deep. That is, do not be afraid to open closets, cupboards, drawers, basements, attics, garages, and garden sheds. Also, check around for signs of wear, tear, mold, mildew, and damage caused by pests or neglect. Pay close attention to nooks and crannies along with ceilings and out of the way corners. Be sure to ask about the condition of all floor coverings when partially obstructed by rugs, carpets, or furniture. Don’t just happily assume everything is fine. As part of your house hunt, search for clues for anything that could be out of line. Check out the plumbing by turning on faucets and flushing toilets. For appliances that will be conveyed, make sure that they all work.
Use the Checklist, But Don’t Become a Slave to it
While using a checklist is a great way to stay organized and identify a property’s strengths and weaknesses, watch out for the temptation to let it over guide you. Even if a place comes up short but is in a great neighborhood it pays to be realistic and use your imagination. For example, don’t let too few bathrooms or existing paint colors prevent you from making an offer on an otherwise awesome house. It happens more often than you think – prospective home buyers just can’t see past what the current owners have in place. Think about the big picture, especially if you plan to live in this home for a very long time. Remember, cosmetic changes, additions and a few modifications can work wonders!
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