If you’ve fallen in love with a home, it can be hard to wait to put an offer in, especially if you’re in a seller’s market. Remember though: patience will help protect you from putting an offer on a home that’s not going to be a great fit. Researching the following five things can help ensure you’re getting the right home, in the right location, at the right price.
- Research the Location
When you move to a new home, you’re not just moving to a new floorplan. You’re also moving to a brand-new neighborhood with new people and new surroundings. Because of this, it’s important to research the area where you’ll be moving. Pay special attention to:
- Your Commute Time
Before making an offer on a home, try driving or taking public transportation to your job around the same time and day, as if you already lived in the area. Normally you’re not looking at homes during rush hour traffic, so this way you’ll get a good feel as to what you’d expect in your day-to-day. If the commute is too long or you find it’s too complex, the home may not be a great fit.
- The Schools
If you have children, or if you’re planning to have children, it’s important to look at the schools they will be attending if you move into the home. This is important to research even if you don’t have children, though. Every parent wants to ensure their child has a great education, and if the home is surrounded by less than stellar schools, the home may not have a lot of resale value.
This might seem like a silly item to research, but walkability and convivence to the grocery store or pharmacy can be a big deal once you’ve moved into a home and they’re a 15-minute drive away. If you’re looking for a home that’s further away from the hustle and bustle of life, then this won’t matter. If you’re looking at a home in the middle of the suburbs and your nearest grocery store is going to be bit of a trip to get to, it might be worth it to consider another home.
- The Neighborhood
It’s a great idea to visit the neighborhood you’ll be moving into at different times of the day to see if you think it would be a good fit. Are there other families in the area or is it mostly working professionals? Are there young children or older couples? Is it loud at certain times of day? What is the crime like in the area? All of these questions can help you determine if making an offer on the home is a good idea for you and your family.
- Walk Through the Home
Before you ever make an offer on a home you will want to do a home walk through. Pictures online can be beautiful, but they will never show you the odd way the wall juts out in the living room or the stains on the tile in that basement bathroom. Walking through a home can help you see (and sometime smell!) the odd quirks about a home that pictures can’t quite capture. Every home has some small thing that’s a bit off – no home is perfect – but by doing a walk-through before making an offer you can spot potential problems and determine if the home is worth buying or not. Of course, while you’re doing a home walk-through…
- Research the Home’s Systems and Appliances
While you’re doing a home walk-through, take a look at the home’s systems and appliances. You’re not just purchasing the structure of a home, but all of the components that make it up as well. If the systems and appliances seem well maintained, then it’s a good chance the home is in good condition. If they don’t, there may be other problems with the home that are lurking underneath the surface.
Make sure that when you do make an offer on a home you include a home inspection clause. This stipulates that the offer is conditional on a home inspection. That way, if you get the inspection back and there are major problems with the home, you can back out of the offer, no questions asked. If the home inspection doesn’t find anything drastic, you can ask the seller to negotiate for repairs or a reduced price so that you can do the repairs yourself. The seller may not agree to your terms, but a home inspection clause can help you negotiate.
If you have a home inspection and you’ve fixed the problems it brings up, you can also consider a home warranty plan. Although a home warranty will not cover issues that are brought up in a home inspection, it can help repair or replace systems and appliances when they fail from normal wear and tear. You can look at home warranty plans here.
- Research Your Own Finances
Before you make an offer, make sure you have all the information you need about your finances squared away.
- Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
To begin the home buying process, you need to get pre-approved. If you’re already looking at homes without a pre-approval letter, it will be very hard to make a serious offer on a home. A pre-approval for a mortgage lets you know how much of a home you can afford. Without it, most sellers won’t even accept an offer.
- Research the Financial Aspects of the Home
Before you make an offer, it’s important to research the financial aspects of the home itself.
- Get Comparable Prices for the Area
Before making an offer, your real estate agent will usually give you some “comparables” – prices for homes that have been sold recently in the same area. You can use these “comps” (as they’re called in the real estate industry) and work with your agent to know how much to offer.
- Talk to the Seller
If you can, chat with the seller about the home. Not only will this give you a good insight into the home, you may learn why they’re selling and that can help determine if you should make an offer and how willing they may be to negotiate.
- Know the Actual Cost of the Home
Even though you may have a pre-approval letter, you will want to make sure you know you can actually afford the home. Buying a home is more than just paying the mortgage each month. You have to pay the utilities, the HOA fee (if there is one), property taxes, home insurance, and more. Work with your agent to determine how much each of these cost to know if you could actually afford the home.
If you’ve researched all of these items and found positive things every step of the way, then congratulations! You may have found your dream home! And of course, with every dream home purchase, it’s important to help protect it with a home warranty plan from Landmark. Landmark Home Warranty helps homeowners protect their systems and appliances when they fail from normal wear and tear. When something covered fails, a homeowner just has to open a service request with Landmark, and we will send a qualified contractor to diagnose the issue. If the failure is covered, Landmark will pay to repair or replace the system or appliance component! You can learn more about this process by downloading our home warranty brochure for your state here.