Wouldn’t it be great if purchasing a home would be as easy as going shopping at a grocery store? All the products are on display in the same aisle, and if you aren’t satisfied with your choice you can just return it.
Unfortunately – the process of buying a home is anything but simple. What’s worse – in the excitement of everything, it’s easy to rush into the buying process and overlook potential shortcomings. Protect your family and your finances by doing your homework before you buy a home.
Select a real estate agent.
Take time to find a real estate agent that will have your best interest at heart. While it’s easy to simply pick up the phone and call the first agent you come across, it’s worth the extra effort it will take to find someone who will help you navigate the complex process of purchasing a home. Are you comfortable with their style? Is the agent truly listening to your needs? Can you count on him or her to negotiate on your behalf?
Research insurance options.
As you begin the house hunting process, call your insurance company to determine if any of the communities you’re interested in are considered high risk. High-risk properties, such as ones that are located in a flood plain, can result in higher rates. Also, once you’ve selected a home, get a quote from the insurance company so you can incorporate the estimate into your monthly payment estimates.
Get to know the neighborhood.
When you’ve identified a home that you like, take the time to get to know the neighborhood. Drive through the neighborhood on different days and during different times to see what it’s like on a daily basis. Speak to some of the neighbors to learn more about what they like or dislike about the area. Also, don’t forget to do an online search for registered sex offenders who may be living in the area.
Educate yourself about the school district.
If you have children, this step is particularly important. Determine what school district your potential home is in by contacting the school district directly. Then, do some research about the district to determine if it would be a good fit for your family. This should include a visit to the schools during a regular school day to get a feel for it.
Consider monthly costs.
In addition to monthly mortgage payments there are a myriad of other costs you need to consider. How much will it cost to heat or cool the house? What about the monthly cost of electricity, water, gas, etc.? If you are considering buying a condominium, can you afford the monthly management fees? Is the condominium association expecting any special assessments in the near future? Request a copy of the association budget.
Look into recent neighborhood sales.
Before you place an offer on a home, take the time to review sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood. Your bid should reflect recent sales of comparable homes.
Hire a home inspector.
Finally, make sure you inspect the physical condition of the house. One or more professional inspectors should look for defects or malfunctions in the building’s structure, such as the roof, plumbing, or foundation, and detect pest infestations or dry rot and similar damage.
Buying a home is an exciting process. Don’t rush the process and make sure you do your homework before you sign on the dotted line.