- JR Hevron - MortgageLoan.com
Monday, Feb 14, 2011
Locating the perfect house is as tricky as finding the right relationship. This Valentine’s Day, follow these three steps to get a head start on identifying a house that you can call “the one.”
It’s relatively easy to jump in and out of relationships to find out what works best before committing to anything long term. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to experiment with home ownership. Many inexperienced homebuyers fall in love with houses that seem amazing, but don’t ultimately meet their needs.
“You should have a sit down with your broker
over coffee,” recommends Scott Harris
, a residential real estate broker
at Brown Harris Stevens in New York City,” and tell him or her what your dream home looks like. Sometimes just talking it out, like therapy, can help you to pinpoint what is going to be in a house you love!”
Read on for three steps that you can take to find a house that you will love for many years to come.
Step 1: Figure out what you need vs. what you want.
“The most important thing you can do is think about how you live,” advises Scott Harris
. “ Do you spend most of your time in the kitchen? In the living room watching TV? What rooms do you really
live in? Being honest with yourself and where you spend your time is very important.”
To find a home that is truly suited to your needs, it helps to sit down and make a list of the things that you want and the things that you really need.
Here are a few examples of things that you might need in a house:
- Enough square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms to accommodate your family.
- Room for parents or other family members who will be staying with you frequently.
- A garage, basement, or other area to store things.
- Adequate closet space.
- An eat-in kitchen or dining room.
- Outdoor space for pets or children.
Here are some things that may be high on the list of things that you want—but can likely do without or upgrade to later:
- A view.
- Premium plumbing and lighting fixtures.
- Wood floors.
- Carpet/walls/doors that are a certain color.
- A brand new kitchen or bathroom.
- A Jacuzzi or pool.
- A landscaped yard.
Step 2: Pick the right location.
“Too often, buyers become distracted by the ancillary aspects of a home purchase such as tax credits, closing costs, allowances, etc.,” says Tony Sena, the owner of Shelter Realty in Las Vegas. “These temporary benefits will be long forgotten years later. Stay focused on the core elements: Will the home work for you now and into the future? Is the neighborhood and location what you really want? If you find yourself saying, "Yes, we can make this work" and not "this is where we want to be,” you're probably buying the wrong house.”
Location is key to finding happiness in a new home. Sure, you can “make it work” no matter where your house is located, but do you really want to spend half your day commuting to work?
Location encompasses a number of topics. At it’s most basic, you’ll want to consider how close the house is to things. How close is it to your work? If you have kids, how close is it to their schools (and are the schools any good)? How close is it to shopping, to grocery stores? Can you afford to have two cars if that is now going to be necessary? Is it close to public transportation?
Other things to consider with location are your neighbors and the neighborhood. If you find a house that you like, try to scout things out and ask about the neighbors. Perhaps even knock on some doors and meet them yourself.
Annoying neighbors can potentially make your experience unpleasant, but they can also make it difficult to rent or sell the house in the near future.
As for the neighborhood, you’ll want to do some research to find out just how safe it is. Most police departments can provide an on-line crime assessment.
Step 3: Find a home that you can really afford.
Beware of the many calculators and formulas out there that will help you to figure out the maximum that you can afford to pay. These calculators don’t always realistically factor in all of your expenses.
A monthly payment that’s too big can leave you with too little money for things like your retirement, vacations, and college funds. You are the only one who can decide what you can really afford. To start figuring this out, try to answer the following questions that may not be factored into many online calculators:
- How much money you want to set aside for things like retirement and college?
- How much will maintenance likely run on your new home (probably 1-3% of the home’s total value annually)? Also, factor in a few hundred dollars here and there for emergency repairs.
- What will your future income be after you have children (if you want them), especially if one partner plans to stop working?
- How much do hobbies like travel cost per year. Do you really want to give them up?
- If your income varies based on bonuses or overtime, what is a very conservative estimation of your salary?
- As you can see, the general advice to purchase a house that is 28% of your gross monthly income isn’t a one-size-fits-all measurement for the real world.
As a last piece of advice, Scott Harris
recommends bringing a parent or loved one who is not afraid to be honest to see any potential properties. “Brokers hate when a buyer’s parent appears at a showing,” he says,” because Mommy is always much more negative. However, a buyer can usually filter out much of that noise—and the feedback is often very helpful to finding a place that is a perfect fit.”