Experienced home buyers know that there's more to look for than a good neighbourhood and a sturdy foundation when buying a home. They shop with their hearts, their heads - and with the expert advice of a real estate professional. Before you get caught up in the excitement of searching for the perfect home, here are some things to consider.
Tips for Buying a Home
Know how much you want to spend
Don't get caught in that trap of finding a perfect home that you can't afford. Do your homework and define your budget. Get a pre-approved mortgage and keep your eye on the market, since any changes could impact what you can afford. Make sure to include any renovations you would like consider in the short term.
Scope out the neighbourhoods
Before you start looking at individual homes, figure out which neighbourhoods you would prefer to live in. How close are schools? Stores? Access to highways and public transit? These all have an impact. Also, check common areas in a community like parks and playgrounds. Look for tell-tale signs of neglect or proud upkeep as it can say a lot about how the residents feel about their neighbourhood. Your REALTOR® can also let you know how well certain neighbourhoods are selling, which is a good indicator of where people want to live.
Make a list
Smart shoppers never head to the grocery store without a list and neither should you when you head out to an open house. Organize your thoughts on paper and come up with a master house wish list that you can refer to. Divide it up into must-haves, would-be-nice items and deal breakers. During the buying process, carry this list with you so that you can compare homes on the basis of your personal wants and needs.
Find a home inspector
Even before you locate your ideal home, be prepared to conduct a home inspection. A home inspector may even be able to offer you some pointers for things to look out for when you first see a place.
Take your time
Don't try to squeeze more than four viewings into a single day - it can be more confusing than convenient. Make notes of the pros and cons after viewing each property. This way you can take a look at the next home without struggling to remember details about the one before.
Be sure to ask about mutual driveways, parking, zoning bylaws and upcoming construction. You may be in a neighbourhood that is about to be receiving power line upgrades or road repairs that can wreak havoc on getting from point A to point B after you move in.
Be a legal eagle
Ask for a survey of the property and take a good look at it. Fences may not be on actual property lines and right-of-way issues may come into play in the future with the sale of the home next door. Don't just rely on your judgment; hire a lawyer to inspect all of the paperwork related to a prospective purchase and to advise you.
Get a second opinion
If you've found a home that really appeals to you, show it to someone like a good friend or relative. Let them do all the talking in case they see something you hadn't noticed. Having someone who isn't personally vested in the property can give you the objective opinion you need before you make your buying decision.
Think it through
In a hot market, it can be hard not to make an immediate offer. Be sure review your list and carefully gauge if this property meets all of your must-have criteria. Home buyers say that when you find the right property, you can feel it down to your bones. If that's the case for you, see if you can wait a day (or a few hours) before making an offer. The only thing worse than buyer's remorse is letting a dream home get away.