Best Practices in Preparing Your Search
Without adequate planning, finding a new home can be a nightmare for anyone looking to relocate. But with a little advance preparation while armed with a property checklist and the right questions, house hunting can become a stress-free, even enjoyable, experience.
One valuable piece of advice for homebuyers is to arrange for your insurance to go into effect on the day that you move into your new place. It’s also a good idea to discuss this with your roommate, as he or she may have also let this fall by the wayside. And when your best friend trips on a rug and breaks a leg, who wants to be surprised by a bill for what could amount to thousands of dollars?
The trick, experts say, is to know what you’re looking for before you begin looking for it. Simple preparation and listing the features that you’ll want in a new home can save you substantial time down the road as the legwork and property viewing schedules slowly pile up. Here is some home buyers’ advice to find a new home:
- House Condition: If you’re looking to save money, you might confine your search to fixer-uppers– properties that require renovation.
- House Style: There are several home styles to choose from — everything from Cape Cods and Split-Levels to Colonials and Victorians. Know your tastes.
- Living Space: How much square footage will you and/or your family require to live comfortably. How much do you have now? Are you planning on growing – or reducing – the amount of family members in your living space.
- Bedrooms: How many bedrooms are necessary? Do they need to be on the same floor as you?
- Backyard: What size backyard? Must it be fenced to keep kids or pets from running astray? Planning on a pool for the future, and if so, are you zoned for one?
- Neighborhood: What should the surrounding area be like? Are you looking for something more urban, or is a rural setting preferred? What amenities, such as shopping and public transportation, would you like close by? If you have children, do you require a home located on a bus route?
- Parking: How large a driveway do you need? How many vehicles do you own?
- Availability: When would you like to move in? Some owners are not prepared to vacate their premises immediately. When must you vacate yours?
Eliminate any properties that don’t meet your established criteria or are out of price range. Once this list of homebuyer’s advice is compiled you can begin house hunting — but be sure to bring along a notepad and your property inspection checklist to help you evaluate, and remember, any properties visited.
Count on visiting your favorites properties twice. The first visit affords an overall impression of the home and neighborhood while the return visit fills in the details. Be sure to explore the neighborhood and speak with neighbors. Take a drive from the home to your work and get a feel for the commute. Purchase the local paper and find out what’s happening in the vicinity. You might also consider visiting the property at various times during the day — especially useful when evaluating changing traffic patterns and lighting conditions.
If the seller is available, ask why the home is on the market, the monthly cost of utilities, quality of the school system, neighborhood security and any other questions that come to mind. Always remember to keep negative opinions of the property to yourself when the owner is present.