10 Step Guide to Buying a House – Step 4
Step 4 – Look At Homes
Educating yourself on the local market and working with an experienced Realtor can help you narrow your priorities and make an informed decision about your new home.
Start With Your Budget
Before beginning your home search you should have a preapproval from a lender and an idea of your comfort level with a house payment.
Find the Right Neighborhood
After establishing your price range you’ll narrow your search by neighborhood. Think about the type of setting in which you want to live – urban, suburban or rural. Do you want to be near outdoor recreational amenities, shops and restaurants or one with activities for children and good schools?
Many homes are part of a HOA (Home Owners Association). Consider whether you want to live in an HOA. On the positive side, HOA rules help protect home values and dues often conclude amenities and maintenance. On the other hand, the rules limit what you can do with the exterior of your home and you’ll need to include HOA dues as part of your housing budget.
It’s a good idea to visit communities at various times of day and night and weekends to get a feel for who lives there and what the activity level is like.
Two important elements of a neighborhood influence how well the homes hold value are crime and schools. While your Realtor can’t tell you about crime statistics or ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ schools, they can direct you to websites that provide information about those topics. Even if you don’t have children, buying a home in a well regarded school district can help the property’s long-term value.
Most buyers start on a home website, but your realtor can also help find homes through the local MLS. You can request e-mail alerts that notify you when a home that fits your list of priorities comes on the market.
You can evaluate the home first by looking at the photos and description online and any virtual tours or videos offered.
Next, you will narrow down your priorities to find the home that meets your needs.
Look at both new and existing homes. New homes are sometimes more expensive but they require less maintenance and often have lower utility bills because of energy-efficient features.