Finding the Right One
Falling for a home too hard, too fast, can cost you. Just the thought of the hunt gets your heart racing and puts butterflies in your stomach. You know the right one is out there, you just didn’t expect the search to take so long. Every time a new contender catches your eye, another obstacle rears its ugly head. Are you looking for love in all the wrong places?
No, we’re not talking about dating, we’re talking about searching for a home.
Before you make an offer on a home it’s a good idea to get to know it. Touring homes when you’re ready to buy is a little like dating—you filter through a bunch of prospects before you find one you think you could spend the rest of your life with. Get to know the new place well, after all, it’s going to be one of the biggest purchases you make in your lifetime. Just remember, before you sign your name to a legally binding purchase agreement, the date isn’t over until both parties agree to all the terms so there’s still time to dump your date.
It’s in your best interest to learn as much about your new love before you get into a serious relationship. You can ask your agent about as many details as possible but there are some things you will need search through your own due diligence. Walk around the block and visit with neighbors, sometimes they’ll have stories about the property that you’d never find out through a home inspection or other reports.
Sometimes these stories can warn you of possible problems. I once learned from an associate that one of their clients bought a home in the fall and the following spring it got water in the basement. When they called in professional help to fix the problem the neighbor to the rear of the house informed them that the previous owner had gotten estimates to regrade the foundation because he was having water problems but the estimates came in too high so he thought he’d fix the problem himself. The new owners found out too late that he was unsuccessful. Getting the most information you can will help you determine if you’re ready to make that offer.
Before you say I Do:
Get pre-approved. Find out your buying power to help you focus on properties in your financial range. Put together a list of your needs to help your agent narrow the search. How many bedrooms? Bathrooms? Square footage? Location?
Is the price right?
Depending on the housing market, the length of time a house is on the market may be a sign that the seller may be more open to negotiate.
- Is the asking price reasonable
- What are the prices of comparable properties
- How long has the property been on the market
Is it in good shape?
- Does the price reflect the condition
- Does it need repairs
- Does it appear clean and well-kept
- Are the floor plan and features right for your needs
What’s the Home Inspector report say?
- Is the HVAC in good shape or showing its age
- Plumbing and electric done to code
- Is the roof in good shape or show signs of damage
- Do warranties transfer to new owners
- Are appliances functioning properly
Does it flow with your lifestyle?
- Do you get a positive feeling about the quality of life in the area
- Are there parks and recreational areas
- Is the area showing its age
- Was your first impression positive
Are the amenities you need nearby?
- Grocery stores
- Convenience stores
- Post office
- Public transportation
- Traffic and commutes
Is the city or county planning any changes?
- Planned developments
- Zoning changes
- Tax levy
- New schools
Figure out your must-haves. Put together a list of your needs and stick to them through the dating process. If you have questions about the neighborhood you can alway call the Chamber of Commerce, City Police or search online—Google Maps is great for seeing a bird’s-eye view and they have most of the neighborhood highlights geo-located on their satellite view.
There are a lot of questions you can ask. The ones I brought up may or may not apply to everyone because every buyer has their own needs which may produce an entirely different set of questions. It’s like doing a background check for criminal activity and you don’t want to find out you just made a commitment with an axe murderer.
Here’s a clip from The 40-Year Old Virgin, a humorous look at the trials of dating. Remember, your heart won’t lie, but online profiles do.
WARNING: This clip contains adult language.