The average homebuyer generally has a must-have checklist: a master bathroom; an open kitchen with no obnoxiously colored tile in the kitchen; plentiful outdoor space, perhaps.
Beyond these quantifiable items, though, there are aspects of choosing a home that take more time and effort to check out. Follow these tips to make sure you find the perfect home for all your wants and needs.
Get an Agent
The most important decision a first-time buyer makes is to choose an agent “who constantly works to meet your expectations,” says Mike Wolf, a San Diego-based real estate agent and author of “The First Time Homebuyer Book” (Dog Ear Publishing, 2010).
A good agent will outline the highlights and the lowlights of a property, never leaving out information that could make a purchaser think twice. Buying a new home is a big deal, so having good help along the journey is essential.
Follow Up with a Solid Foundation
Wolf says to be mindful of four major attributes of a home that you may not immediately notice: the foundation, plumbing, electrical work and roof. Rely on professional home inspector to red flag potential problems.
“Don’t try to pretend like you know what you’re talking about because you read a few articles online,” Wolf says. “Let your real estate agent get you linked to people who deal with these things every single day.”
Double-Check the Neighborhood
The house may look good, but how is the ’hood? Even safe neighborhoods have fallbacks. Check out the neighborhood more than once and at different times of the day.
Be aware of the amount of street parking, which can indicate the level of commotion, and be on the lookout for future projects like building and construction that might intervene with your move.
Wolf says to make it a mission to meet the neighbors and ask them questions about the neighborhood.
“There are going to be people coming and going, parking their cars, walking their dogs,” he says. Get to know them, find out more about the area and the maintenance of the neighborhood. Is it clean? Is it safe? Are the rates good?
“That gets you the best, most honest answers,” he says.
Keep Amenities in Mind
A quick, easily walkable trip to the supermarket is great, but remember that proximity comes with a price.
“The amount of amenities and the proximity of them to a specific house is highly correlated with price,” Wolf says. “You definitely get what you pay for in real estate. If living centrally is important to you, be prepared to pay a premium in order to do so.”
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