Buying a home, whether it’s your first or your tenth, requires much thought and planning. There are many decisions you need to make and every single one of them is important if you’re going to have a stress-free move. From choosing your Allied Van Lines moving truck package, to selecting the right realtor, every decision will bring you closer to settling into your new home. Here are just a few of the factors you should consider before you start packing:
Get pre-approved and know your budget
You can’t put an offer on a home unless you know you’re going to be able to afford it. See a mortgage broker or your financial lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage. Once you know how much you can afford, you can streamline the process of searching for the right house, which will save everyone a lot of time.
Choose your professionals wisely
The real estate transaction is going to involve a plethora of professionals, including a realtor, lawyer, and home inspector. Choose each of these people wisely; get recommendations from friends or relatives and make sure they have experience in their respective field.
Choose the general location
Pick out a radius of about 4-5 blocks, or a general town or city that you want to live in. Do you want to be close to schools and parks? Or would you rather have close access to the highway to cut down on your commute to work? Make a list of what’s important to you and then start your search. Go to some open houses in your desired area, so you can get an idea of what some of the homes look like.
Create your list of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’
Do you absolutely have to have a fireplace? Or is an ensuite more important to you? Do you need to have 3 bedrooms, or can you get by with two for now? Make a list of features and amenities that you absolutely must have, and those that would be nice, but won’t be a deal-breaker. Consider also the size of home you would like. Consider your future needs as well. If you are a newlywed, you may be happy in a one-bedroom condo; but if you’re planning on having children soon, you may want to opt for a bungalow so you don’t outgrow your home too quickly. Likewise, if you’re going to be an empty-nester in a couple of years, a large two-story home will seem a little empty once your kids move out.
New home vs. existing
This decision will take a lot of research and soul-searching. There is no right or wrong answer here. A new home has its advantages because you can, to an extent, have the floor plan and exterior that you want, making minor changes along the way. There’s nothing like walking into a home that no one else has lived in before and making it yours; on the other hand, there can be disadvantages, such as builder delays, and defective areas of the house due to builder negligence. You can avoid this by choosing a reputable builder (again, do your research and ask friends and family who they would recommend). An existing home already has everything you need, such as landscaping (many new homes don’t have grass, etc.) and you can make minor changes yourself if you wish (such as updating a kitchen or bathroom).
This may seem like an endless list of decision making, but remember that a home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, and you want to make sure you have covered all your bases. Your realtor can help you with some of these decisions, but you have the final say in the house you purchase, based on your own research.