THINGS TO CONSIDER
Buying a home can be an exciting endeavor, and once new owners have signed all the paperwork and collected the keys to their dream home, they may think the process is over with. However, the truth is, there are a number of additional costs that come with homeownership, and being aware of these expenses and incorporating them into a budget can help first-time homeowners manage these additions. Some of these expenses can be planned for in advance, while others may require homeowners to set aside funds each month to cover their needs.
Homes can appear smaller than they actually are when individuals are visiting an open house. This is primarily because the house is full of furniture, accent pieces and accessories. But when first time homeowners relocate from a one or two-bedroom apartment to a home, they may find that they don’t have enough furniture to fill the place. Owners can keep their costs low by picking up accent pieces here and there, rather than all at once. In addition, purchasing furniture from warehouse factories, collecting trinkets and accessories from yard sales and shopping for used items online can help buyers find pieces that appeal to their tastes without breaking the bank.
Purchasing a home can be expensive, and new homeowners will want to protect their investment by providing sufficient insurance coverage. It’s crucial to shop around for an affordable plan that adequately covers all of a homeowner’s needs. Experts urge owners to choose a policy that covers rebuilding costs, rather than the initial purchase price or value of their home. In addition, homeowners should read the policy carefully to make a determination about purchasing additional coverage for disasters or scenarios their standard policy may not cover.
Properly maintaining a home, such as cleaning the roof, ensuring the wiring and structure is sound and replacing appliances can be expensive over the years. It is important to realize that maintenance can be financially rewarding in the long run, as it can help avoid structural, water and electrical damage.
The costs of electric bills, water and air conditioning can run significantly higher in a home than an apartment. It may take homeowners some time to determine how often to actually run the air conditioning and get into the practice of turning off lights and appliances when they are not in use to keep costs low. Prospective buyers have several factors to weigh in when buying a home, and one of the most important characteristics individuals look at is the neighborhood they plan to reside in. There are several more prominent amenities that buyers examine and desire in a community, such as a good school system, affordable taxes and friendly neighbors. But there are also a few lesser-known factors that potential buyers should consider.
Proximity to work, social locations
Finding the perfect home in a quaint neighborhood is every prospective buyer’s dream. However, when the location is more an hour away from a buyer’s office, university or frequently visited hot spots, this can wear on a homeowner over time. The same is true for proximity to grocery stores, medical centers and shopping plazas. For this reason, it’s important for buyers to examine the modes of transportation that are available and whether these options meet their needs. Because staying within a budget is important to many new homeowners, it’s also important to factor in the costs of transportation when shopping for a new home. In addition, buyers may also want to consider their own social lives and whether the neighborhood and its surrounding areas can accommodate them when searching for a home. A young couple who enjoys venturing out frequently may feel constricted living in a neighborhood that is geared toward older generations. In contrast, buyers who are planning on starting a family may not feel as fulfilled living in a community that is primarily made up of young professionals or college students.
Safety is a big concern for any potential home buyer, so look up crime rates and safety features of a neighborhood. Buyers may want to drive through the community both during the day and at night and talk to neighbors about safety concerns or and their experiences in the area. In addition, home buyers can find out about neighborhood watch programs and police presence in the town. Communities that gain a great amount of tourist attention may also see a lot of weekend or seasonal traffic, so buyers wanting to avoid this type of congestion should weigh this into their decision. It’s important for buyers to keep in mind that purchasing a home is a business deal, and like any formal agreement, it’s best to go in with a clear head.
Take several looks at the home
When it comes to shopping for a house, every person has their own way of deciding what they want. However, making snap judgments about a home after one look can make some pass up a great offer because they believe there are better deals available, while others might choose a home too quickly without exploring other options. Striking a balance between the two is important, because it gives buyers the chance to really examine each house they visit and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of all their options. For example, buyers who are frequently looking for a better deal may pass up homes that have all the amenities and features they are looking for within their price range. Over time, they may find that all the homes they passed up were the best options, but many of these may already be off the market. In contrast, buyers that fall in love with a home immediately may experience regret down the road if they don’t take an objective view of the property. It’s important that buyers go through all the advised procedures, such as getting the home inspected and appraised and making sure it falls within the right price range to avoid overpaying.
Make a realistic offer
Buyers who are extremely interested in a home should be very careful about making realistic offers, and working with their real estate agent to know how much a property is really worth. Making lowball offers for the sake of negotiating can cause buyers to quickly lose out on a home sale. In addition, making a significantly higher offer may result in buyers overextending their finances. The last thing a buyer wants to happen after signing a mortgage is to find the their new dream home has foundation issues or another costly repair that derails their move-in plans. These issues can be largely avoided if buyers are prepared to address potential property problems before they buy a home. Shoppers who are interested in a property can hire an inspector to pinpoint problems, and may be able to have the seller fix these issues before moving in or negotiate a better price for the home. Whichever option a home buyer chooses, it’s important to be aware of repair needs before signing a contract. There are several areas adults should look for when shopping for their dream home.
Check for foundation and water damage
The foundation of a home is one of the first areas home buyers should examine, primarily because this type of repair can be costly. During the home staging, home buyers should examine the basement and exterior of the house carefully for cracks in the stone or drywall, especially around windows and doors. In addition to foundation problems, shoppers should also check the home carefully for water damage. Individuals may be able to spot this type of damage in basements, especially if there was a leak, as well as bathrooms and kitchen. Adults should check under sinks and behind toilets. Buyers are looking for brown or white stains on the walls or near pipes that may suggest mold, which can be potentially toxic.
Renovating a home after purchase
Whether they are dealing with a growing family or have simply decided to change some aspect of their property, many homeowners may find themselves considering renovations or remodeling projects after buying a home. There are a number of factors to take into account when considering major projects.
Patience and planning
Planning a renovation properly takes time, and rushing can cause regrets later on. Homeowners in a hurry are less likely to take the time to speak to different contractors and carefully examine what they want. Homeowners who take the time research their contractor and map out their project often save money and have a better understanding for how the end project will turn out. When homeowners rush it could lead to a flawed project or a successfully completed one that they realize was a mistake. At that point, it’s too late. When thinking about changing a new home, residents should take some time to figure out what options may work and what may not. Being patient and not devoting an oversized amount of their time to a project also allows homeowners to remain focused on everything else in their lives. This may include getting a new job, a child adjusting to new schools or other changes. These factors may alter how the space of the home is to be used. For example, someone may determine that they need a larger work area at home than they expected.
Homebuyers often come to see a home differently after living in it for even a short time. They may find that they do not use the space the way they expected, gathering in some rooms more often than others. Personal experience may also show that some rooms are colder at night, or warmer during some parts of the day, or have other characteristics that are difficult to anticipate. Alternatively, rooms may accommodate furniture and decorations very well in their current shape, and changing the home might not be worthwhile as a result.
Which home repairs should you prioritize?
Buying a home can be an expensive endeavor, and many potential buyers choose to shave a couple bucks off the final price by purchasing starter homes or properties that need a few repairs. And while this strategy can be an effective way to save money and, in some cases, personalize the house, knowing which repairs are more pressing can help new homeowners avoid delaying certain issues for too long.
Prioritize wiring and electrical issues
Focusing on correcting bad wiring should be a top priority for any new homeowner. At best, electrical issues can cause headaches for homeowners when it comes to operating appliances, lights and electronics. But at worst, faulty electrical wiring can lead to fires and electrocution, which may result in fatalities, emotional trauma and financial problems. Common signs of electrical problems include loose or hot outlets and lights that frequently dim when other appliances are turned on. Individuals who experience these types of issues may want to enlist the services of a professional electrician to investigate and correct the problem. The service may set homeowners back a few hundred dollars and replacing bad wiring can range in the thousands, but sound peace of mind and a safe home can go a long way both mentally and financially.
Look for structural damage
Problems with a home’s foundation can lead to dangerous cracking and shifting of the house, so it’s important to repair any structural issues before focusing on less time-sensitive matters. Homeowners may spot structural damage by looking for cracks in masonry work, split beams and small piles of pine dust or mud trails, which suggests wood boring insects or termites, the news source reports. Homeowners who spot these common signs should contact a contractor to explore the damage and decide on a plan of action. Similar to correcting electrical problems, the costs of repairing structural damage can range into the thousands. However, failing to repair the problem could balloon into more severe and costly issues.
Examine roof and gutters
Rain storms can cause big problems for homeowners if their roof and gutters are not up to par. Insufficient roofing or clogged gutters can lead to water leaking into the home or its foundation, resulting in rotting, mold, electrical damage and insects. Roof inspectors can pinpoint any issues and propose a plan of action.
Working with a real estate agent effectively to buy a home
A good real estate agent can support and assist his clients, but how they handle the process of searching for and buying a home will affect how helpful agent can be. While this can be frustrating, there are a sign of more significant problems. Without seeing homebuyers walking through, discussing and considering a property, it is more difficult to know what they wanted.
People may find it hard to trust in their agents’ judgment, since they are the ones who will be buying and living in a home once the decision is made. However, agents are professional experts who commonly have years of experience, not just in their job but in a specific housing market. Talking over what the buyers want and walking through homes that are not quite right may require patience, but ultimately can help the agent and buyers refine their search so that they know what to look for. Once agents have a specific concept of the type of home to find, they can better serve buyers. Sometimes, buyers may be attracted to characteristics of a home that does not meet their needs. If an agent’s advice conflicts with their own instincts, buyers may wish to re-evaluate what they are looking for and ask themselves whether the property has those characteristics. If not, the agent may have saved them from making a mistake.
Trusting an agent
Trust applies not only to judgments on whether a property is right, but also on price and other factors. By the time negotiations are beginning, the homebuyers should have had a chance to develop trust with their agent. When the time comes to make offers, homebuyers should remember that their agent has experience in both the negotiation process and, generally, the local real estate market. This makes him or her better suited to evaluate what is a fair price than most consumers. While the agent cannot make all negotiation decisions for his or her client, the point of hiring an expert is to benefit from his or her advice.
Factors that cannot be changed
When shopping for and buying a home, one way to narrow down a search is to consider what aspects of a given property can or cannot be changed. For example, if a family wants yard space for children to play in, that may limit their prospects. If money is unlimited, then the only thing that truly cannot be changed is the property’s location so this is the best place to start in narrowing down homes for sale. Prospective buyers may want to consider what they will see when they look out the windows, how far away various shopping and other destinations are and similar facts. Because the homeowner generally has no direct control over such factors, they can serve to narrow down possibilities.
Practically speaking, there are other potential limitations, such as the presence or absence of a garage or other parking accommodations. If a home has a front or back yard, a porch a garden or other outdoor amenities, that is worth considering. If not, buyers should consider whether there is enough room to add such features after purchase, and weigh their importance. One example of a practical limitation is a swimming pool. Considered desirable by some, they take up a certain amount of space. If prospective buyers are willing and able to pay for installation themselves, they need not find a home that already has one, but they do have to select a property with enough space for one. The home itself is also important. The roof, siding, windows, exterior paint and doors can be altered, but there is a price for doing so. If the current exterior is unattractive, then the cost of changing it may be prohibitively high or the process more inconvenience than it is worth.
Prospective home buyers may wish to focus their attention on a home’s floor plan when walking through. This can be difficult, since colors and other factors may be more immediately obvious, especially in an occupied home filled with furniture and other items belonging to the current owners. Such items will not be there permanently; however, new carpets, floors and colors on the walls are all relatively convenient changes to make to a home. The floor plan, on the other hand, cannot be altered without major reconstruction.
Anticipating future homeowners’ needs
Home buyers should be aware of local market real estate trends; however they should find a local real estate agent to help them put market conditions into perspective. While it is true that a drop or rise in home prices in an area can affect the ability to purchase a home, the housing market is sufficiently complex that it cannot be timed. For example, home buyers might delay a purchase too long in the hopes of a price drop, only to find the opposite occurs or that mortgage rates increased. Because of this possibility, home buyers are better off consulting with a real estate agent who has the expertise to understand such trends.
When shopping for a home, it is wise to keep this unpredictability in mind for the future as well. Local employment conditions, the condition of the property and other factors might suggest the future direction of the area’s home prices, but there is no perfect way to estimate them. Homeowners are affected in many other ways by their decisions, and should not overlook them or minimize their importance. For example, a young couple intending to have children will want to focus on the size of the home, number of bedrooms and arrangement of space as much as the price, if not more. A family which has purchased a home comfortable for one child might find themselves forced to cope with a lack of space for years after having a second.
How personal factors affect home selection
Obviously, personal predictions of the future are imperfect, as well as financial ones. However, home buyers have a much greater ability to estimate their own future choices than the changes in the housing market. Another example would be home buyers who know, at the time of purchase, that they do not intend to stay in the area for more than 5 or 10 years, compared to some who plan to remain indefinitely. The longer stay would likely justify a stricter selection process. Personal factors can determine how important a home’s location is. A homeowner who works at home might not need to be located anywhere specific, or one running his or her own business might find it particularly important to be able to get to work quickly in an emergency.
Homes with unused potential
When in the process of shopping for a new home, many buyers may overlook properties which have potential beyond their current appearance. You can buy based on location and structure, and easily made cosmetic changes afterward. Location is among the most crucial factors to consider when looking at possible homes. Unlike the style and even structure, no amount of time, effort and money can change a home’s location. To best understand a neighborhood, it can help to visit multiple times at various hours, which will help to reveal the local culture and levels and types of activity to be expected from neighbors.
Evaluating a potential purchase
Home buyers willing to do a little work on a property can involve contractors at an early stage to better understand what kind of commitment a given home will require. Many if not most remodelers will visit a potential purchase at no charge and give a guesstimate of how much work would cost. While this is not as accurate as a more in-depth examination can be, it still represents valuable information when comparing different homes. Real estate agents are also valuable resources they can help home buyers understand a home in the context of its neighborhood and area, and may be able to offer advice on how to increase the value of the property after purchase.
Specifics to look for in a home
Examining a home can be a complex process, and looking for one with unused potential can make it more difficult. The inexperienced in particular may not know what to look for. One thing to keep in mind is that homes older than 50 years are likely to have similarly aged plumbing, electrical, heating and other systems, and they may be worn out or too outdated. The trick, according to the experts, is to find a home whose appearance has caused it to be overlooked or undervalued, but which has sound fundamentals. Improvements like new paint, lighting fixtures, and flooring are relatively cheap and easy. Work on plumbing and electrical systems, structural walls or cabinets are more difficult and expensive. Above all, the floor plan should be appealing. Changes to the home’s structure may be extremely expensive.
Top four advantages of buying a newly built home
When viewing local real estate listings, people looking to buy a home may see a number of newly built homes along with the many existing homes being offered for sale. While they generally cost more than existing homes, new homes can have a number of advantages for home buyers.
The first major advantage of purchasing a new home, comes from the nature of home construction – customization. Many builders allow their buyers to tweak the home’s design, should they want. For example, they may be able to say what color exterior they would like on the home, or what kind of flooring they would prefer in the kitchen. While some changes may affect the home’s final price, even something like the location of a bathroom may be flexible.
Because the homes are new they will generally have fewer repair and maintenance needs than other properties. Older houses may need new carpeting or a fresh coat of paint a few years down the line, while new homes likely will not. New homes may also be made with newer materials which are engineered to require less upkeep, such as composite siding which can’t decay and won’t need repainting.
New homes also generally come with a warranty, which guarantees most things in the home for the first year after it is sold. If the roof begins to leak or the air conditioner fails, the builder may pay for the repair costs. However, home buyers still may want to bring in a separate home inspector to look at the property, since some issues may not present themselves until several months later, when the warranty may have expired.
New homes may also save home buyers more money in the long run, since they are generally much more energy efficient than older properties. Newly built homes also generally come with new appliances, which have similar advantages in terms of energy costs. High-efficiency washers or air conditioners could save homeowners money on their electric bills every month they own their home.
Placing an offer on a home
After finding a home they like, want to own and live in, home buyers still have to negotiate with the current homeowners. From making an offer to closing a deal, home buyers should consult their real estate agents who can help successfully secure their new homes. One common difficulty is knowing what kind of initial offer to make. Home buyers want to pay as little as possible, but there is a limit on what sort of bid home sellers might reasonably be expected to accept. While a first offer below that level might be a good way to establish a negotiating position, too low an offer may anger the home sellers, especially if they believe the buyer is being unrealistic or demanding.
There are a number of factors that might cause home sellers to consider accepting a lower offer. If their property has been on the market for some time without selling, they may be more prepared to accept an offer in the interest of closing a deal and moving on with their lives. If comparable properties are selling for less, then it may be time to present a lower offer. It may be appropriate to note these factors, or the other reasons for the offer including such evidence can prevent tempers from flaring, since it helps home sellers see the price rationally rather than emotionally. In the end, the home sellers will determine what price they are willing to accept. While buyers should not necessarily give them what they ask for, understanding the sellers’ and their reasons may be helpful. For example, if the seller needs a certain amount of money for a new home, he or she may not budge below that price.
Placing a lower offer means being willing to negotiate upward, but the difficult part is deciding how far upward. Buyers should know how much they can afford and how much a home is worth to them. Ultimately, a negotiator who is unwilling to walk away to avoid poor terms is at a disadvantage. Clear communication with the home sellers is important. If they think an offer is the highest a prospective buyer will go when it is not, they may end negotiations prematurely and sink a deal. At the same time, home buyers should avoid giving away information when they can. Seeming too eager for a property, whether that impression is true or false, will likely mean paying more. A careful balance between honesty and discretion can be invaluable.
Neighborhood effects on property values
When looking to buy a home, people may not be aware of the effect certain factors can have on home value. As much care as a homeowner can put into ensuring a property stays in good shape and maintaining a house, the neighborhood is also a factor. A poorly kept yard or proximity to commercial facilities such as a funeral home or power plant can lower nearby home value by as much as 15 percent. Home buyers should be aware of this when looking for a home or negotiating a purchase, and may wish to consider resale as well, particularly if they do not intend to stay long.
What makes a neighborhood bad
A neighbor may negatively affect nearby home prices if he allows his home’s outer appearance to become unpleasant, allows plants to become overgrown or leaves paint peeling or partially-done on the exterior. Neighbors who have constant visitors and parked cars, make noise, have disruptive pets or otherwise make living nearby unpleasant can also have a negative effect on home value, even if some of these factors are harder to judge for prospective home buyers visiting a property. Vacant homes can also lower nearby values, since they tend to fall into disrepair without residents caring for them. Even if a vacant home does not cause more serious problems, it remains unpleasant to look at if not cleaned or maintained. Many of these problems can be spotted simply by driving through or walking around a neighborhood. While it is common for a neighborhood to have some homes which are less attractive than others, or a few residents who are slightly behind on lawn care, the overall pattern can warn potential buyers.
Finding a good neighborhood
Home buyers can look for a number of factors in order to help spot good neighborhoods which will not drop their property values. Aside from nearby power plants, landfills and other unattractive facilities, closed schools are a major factor. Home buyers should look for neighborhoods with access to employment, one of the major factors in home values. University towns, research facilities, government seats and locations home to creative industries tend to do well long-term. Other factors which tend to correlate with value are proximity to good schools and nearby parks. Factors like these may be signs of good neighborhoods or reasons the area is desirable, so home buyers who do their research and learn what to look for can find a home that will stay valuable after they buy it and understand what they’re paying for