Look Before You Leap

cliffIt’s Open House season and many of us have caught home shopping fever.  It’s easy to see why.  It’s so much fun to dream about what you will do to make a new and different house your own: plant a garden, host parties on the deck, or enjoy a relaxing night by the fire, but hold on!  Before you get too emotionally invested, here are a few things to take into consideration before leaping into a new home purchase.

  1. Take the time to shop and qualify for financing before you start looking at homes.  Unless you have a pile of cash sitting around, you will need a loan to pay for your house.  By securing financing ahead of time, you can make strong offer, knowing what you can afford.
  2. If you qualify for a traditional mortgage with a 20% down payment, a commercial bank may offer you the most competitive interest rates.  However, if you are self-employed, have a smaller down payment, or wish to use a government program, consider using a mortgage broker.  They work with multiple lenders and can find the right loan to fit your situation.
  3. Meet your potential neighbors.  They can be a great resource for information about local activities, businesses, and public services.  You can also get a first impression of what they are like and whether you want to live next to them. You can have a great house but it’s not worth it if you have unpleasant neighbors.
  4. Research the cost of utilities.  The gas or electric company can give you historic usage for the property and applicable rates.  The city can tell you what the average rate is for water, garbage and sewer.  Recycling may be included or an extra fee.  Check to see what companies provide phone, internet, and cable services.  You’ll also want to see if your cell phone works and how good the cell coverage is in the area.
  5. Visit the property at different times of day to get an idea of lighting and noise levels.  Traffic may be non-existent during the day, but busy in the morning and early evening when people are coming and going. A home that is bright and sunny during the day could be a dark dungeon at night if there isn’t adequate lighting.
  6. Check the physical markers of your lot boundaries to see what is actually included.  You don’t want to assume ownership of what actually belongs to your neighbor.  You’ll also want to know if there is something, like a fence or outbuilding, encroaching on the property you wish to buy.
  7. Make sure you know about any deed restrictions, community covenants, or conditions placed on the property.  There may be rules about any number of things including outbuildings, paint colors, building materials, lawn care, landscaping, or noise levels.  Even if you are okay to conforming to these rules, it is always better to know ahead of time.
  8. Find a good real estate professional to guide you.  The internet provides a place start your home search, but the information it provides is often outdated and/or inaccurate.  A good realtor has access to the most accurate and timely information regarding the market and can guide you in making the right decision. She will answer your questions and make sure there are no unhappy surprises.  Please call me when you are ready to start your home buying adventure.