Most first time home buyers are well aware that the process of searching for and buying a home can be an overwhelming experience, and all the decision making involved may be stressful. There is so much involved in the process, from researching mortgage companies and interest rates to thinking about the home’s location and square footage. And with family, friends and coworkers all doling out their advice, it can be a challenge to know whose advice to trust.
You can help ensure that you’re making choices that will best benefit you by keeping in mind some of the factors that most real estate experts view as top priority. These include:
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Location, location, location” countless times already on your home buying journey, and with good reason! Proximity to schools, highways, public transportation and shopping centers not only affect property values but will also impact your lifestyle once you move into your new home. Determine your priorities early on, whether you want to be close to shopping and restaurants or you prefer to live in a quiet neighborhood.
Deciding on the size of your first home seems like an obvious step, but make sure you’re thinking about space in the right way. While you may be thinking that you will be comfortable with three bedrooms and a one-car garage now, your needs can change a few years down the line, and it’s not uncommon to spend more time in your first home than you initially predict. Consider how your family may grow over the next ten years, and keep this in mind when thinking about the ideal size for your first home.
While it’s likely that you’ll have a professional home inspection before closing, there are certain structural issues that you can look out for before you even make an offer on your first home. Be sure to look for any signs of foundation issues, termite damage, mold or water damage and electrical or plumbing issues. Being aware of these types of issues ahead of time can prepare you for negotiations, or raise a red flag that pushes you to continue your search.
Unless you’re buying new construction, you’ll want to pay close attention to how your potential first home has been maintained by its current and previous owners. Look out for rotten trim, a crumbling roof, dirty air ducts and corroding pipes. If the previous owner has made renovations, you should also ensure that those renovations were completed using the best materials and following good practices. You don’t want to be surprised by uneven flooring or kitchen drawers that don’t close properly.
Finding the perfect first home
Finally, it’s important to remember that there are things that you can change, so don’t overlook a great home just because it doesn’t meet your idea of the perfect home. Keep an open mind when it comes to things that you can easily and affordably fix to meet your needs and aesthetic preferences, like flooring, countertops and light fixtures. Larger improvement projects, like roof replacement, HVAC systems, and electrical re-wiring are the types of things you may want to avoid. Always consider your personal needs, budget and unique lifestyle when looking for your first home. You can and should place value on the advice of those you trust, but remember to trust your own instincts as well, and you’re sure to find the ideal first home for you and your family.