While acquiring your dream home elicits one of the most beautiful feelings, the house-hunting process is never easy. Most of us have had that mental picture of our dream homes since we were young. For this reason, it becomes hard to differentiate what we want from what we need and can afford.
It’s not easy to foresee what the future holds or what your preferences will be in years to come. However, you can always choose a house that won’t disappoint you in just a few years. And, that’s why we are here.
For the first-time homebuyer, you need the correct information to help you make the right choices. Although the process might be strenuous and frustrating, our house hunting checklist will undoubtedly enable you to choose a house that not only fits your current needs and preferences but also caters to future ones.
Here are some great practical tips to help you make that giant leap.
Best House Hunting Tips
Don’t just jump in on the first beautiful house you get and close the deal. You must plan and get organized if you want to get the best deal.
There is no doubt that the feeling of finally getting the keys to your own house can be exciting and overwhelming, especially if you’ve lived in rental properties for a long time. However, you shouldn’t rush the process of house hunting at all. It is a long process that you should take with ease to ensure that you don’t get frustrated along the way.
Therefore, ensure you prepare adequately. You can do this by first checking your credit score to ensure you are on the right side of credit books. Remember, your credit score will determine the amount of interest rate charged on your mortgage. Higher credit scores attract lower interest rates thus lower monthly installments.
Get a Mortgage Lender
After you’ve checked your credit score and determined you are okay to go, it’s time to get that pre-approval for the mortgage. This will help you significantly in your search for a house.
Remember, while it might be fun checking out various house offerings online, it can be pretty disappointing if you chose one, only to realize later that you don’t qualify for such. For this reason, getting pre-approved for that mortgage will help guide your house hunt—unless you want to make a cash purchase.
Keep in mind that, although the lender might approve you for a higher loan, it’s not a must you spend all that on the house. It is also prudent to determine if that’s what you can afford. You don’t want to overburden yourself with huge monthly mortgage installments.
You can reduce your monthly installments by paying a larger deposit (down payment) than required. This means that you’ll be borrowing small amounts than the lender is willing to offer.
Use Online Sites and Resources
With numerous online house listings, most new home buyers find their ideal house, even before seeing it physically. And, this isn’t a bad thing.
Before you find a real estate agent or pay a physical site visit, online resources only give you a small glimpse of what to expect out there. Therefore, you can simply browse through the various house development websites to identify the houses that might pique your interest.
In the current age, most house hunting starts online before it goes to physical searches. But, always remember to use your checklist to ensure that it fits your needs and wants. This means that when you visit the house physically, you will have handled most of your preferences.
Get Real Estate Agent
We know that you can easily find a house on online listings and make your purchase. However, sometimes going traditional is the best thing. You should explore and seek the services of a real estate agent if you want to get the best from your purchase.
Look for an agent you can get along with and who can help answer all the necessary questions arising along the way. The agent should be your ally and should help you make informed choices in various stages of the house-hunting process.
Some of the issues you should take care of to ensure the best process here include:
- Communicate – communicate with the agent, outlining what you are looking for (want and need). This will guide the agent in finding you the best house.
- Honesty in terms of your budget and expectations – let the agent know what you intend to spend, as well as what you expect from the house hunt.
Flexibility – don’t fear turning down a house that doesn’t feel right for you. Remember, you are the one to live in it. So, don’t get all worked up when the real agent presents a house you disapprove of—simply let them know how you feel.
Choose Your Preferred Location
Next on our house hunting checklist is identifying the most preferred location to have the house—somewhere you feel most comfortable owning a home.
You shouldn’t choose the location just randomly. There are various factors you should consider, including:
- Proximity to schools
- Availability of public transport and other means of commuting
- Distance to the nearest schools, hospitals, and working place.
Also, some people prefer gated communities, while others would opt for locations with fewer neighbours. All these are factors you should consider before settling on a place.
Visiting some of these neighbourhoods and getting insights from people living there can help you make an informed decision. You can also look for stats and online reviews by locals posted on various review websites.
Create a Want vs. Need List
As mentioned earlier, what you want might not necessarily be what you need and what you can afford. Differentiating between these aspects will help you develop a list of the things you must have in the house and things to forego.
On the need list, identify things that you cannot compromise. These might include the number of stories, style, design, size and number of bedrooms, the living room size, back yard, etc.
On the want list, put down the features and items that you wish to have in your ideal home but can be negotiated. These might include things like a pool, a screened porch, etc. All this will help you create a balance.
Don’t only go for what you need or just what you want. Make a balanced choice to guarantee satisfaction and comfort.
Visiting Open Houses
Physically visiting several open houses is an excellent idea during your house hunting period. This will help you match your numerous online searches with reality.
You don’t have to be buying a house immediately to make these site visits. Starting early gives you a clear picture and more ideas of how you want your home to look in the future.
Note that, while you’ll find numerous house photos and virtual tours online, they can never measure the actual visit. Visiting the house will allow you to point out some pros and drawbacks you wouldn’t have spotted in photos.
For instance, you can assess the amount of light getting into the house and the quality of fresh air in the area by a single visit. Questions from other potential home buyers might also prompt crucial information you never knew you needed from the seller.