I’ll be the first to say that I’m no real estate professional. Why would you care about my opinions as to what matters when you’re buying your first home? Truth be told, I totally understand if you don’t care about my opinions at all. However, I did spend quite a bit of time (over three years actually) looking for the right home before I bought one.
Along the way I talked with all sorts of professionals, from the obvious real estate agents, to plumbers, electricians, structural engineers, and finally home inspectors. I can’t say that I know all there is to know by any means, but I thought it might be worth sharing some of my take aways in case you find them helpful in your search as well.
This is the long-touted opinion of real estate, but it’s true for more reasons than resale value alone. It’s incredibly important that the location that you choose to buy a home is convenient for your day to day life. It’s going to affect your daily commute, how far you have to travel whenever you need basic supplies like food and toiletries, and so much more.
Make sure that the house that you buy offers a commute that you can handle. You’re probably going to be traveling to the office most days, and you don’t want to be working up an attitude every time you do it. Traffic is terrible, there’s no question.
There’s also the concern of the neighborhood. Pay attention to how close your neighbors properties are to you, and also just the general placement of the plot of land. How are the water tables? Are you likely to get flooding? What about insects from nearby marshes? Highway noise? Power lines? All of these things are important to be aware of before you commit to one of the biggest purchases you’ve ever made in your life.
Stay Well Within Your Budget
Just because your mortgage broker says you’re approved for a number doesn’t necessarily mean you should spend it all. It’s astonishing how quick the costs pile up once you move into your new home. Unexpected problems arise that the previous owners either didn’t know about or didn’t tell you about. General maintenance is quite a cost that you can’t really slow or stop. Don’t forget you’re probably going to want at least some new furniture that matches your new home’s style. And now that you have a house, why wait on having a kid?
It all piles up so quickly, and it’s important to anticipate this before you go into a purchase. Make sure that you have enough on hand not only to afford the cost of the house itself, but also to absorb all of the auxiliary costs that are going to come along with it. Maybe you’re lucky and you can buy your house in cash, and in that case you won’t need a mortgage, but I have a feeling most of us are going to need at least a little help.
Know Where You’re Willing To Compromise And Where You Aren’t
Know this, and also know that at the end of the day you might end up compromising where you wouldn’t have wanted to anyway. We all have a crystal clear plan of our ideal situation, but when the right deal arises all of that is going to go to the wayside. As Mike Tyson once said (roughly), everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
You really aren’t going to know what makes sense for you until you find it. It’s going to be a matter of seeing a number of houses, seeing what they have to offer versus how much they cost, and balancing all of that to fit it within your lifestyle. This, as are many things in life, is a learning process. It probably won’t be your last home either, so it’s OK if you make a mistake. Just try not to make too big of a mistake and you should be all right. Good luck out there, and happy home buying!