Developing a Philosophy
Before you start your journey of looking for a home, it's wise to develop a personal philosophy that can guide you throughout the process. Here are a few questions to consider when developing your home-buying philosophy.
- Who will be included in the decision? Buying a home is a big decision, and many of your friends, family, and coworkers will have opinions about the best home, neighborhood, floor plan, etc. It's a good idea to decide at the outset whose advice you will value and who will be included in the final decision.
- How will I know when I've found the right home? This may be the most important question that you ask yourself. Everyone has a slightly different answer to this question. The value-conscious buyer might answer, "when my home appreciates 10%," while another buyer might answer "when I'm excited to come home each day." Know what logical or emotional milestones you are waiting for and it will be much easier to make the right decision.
- What am I willing to pay? A lot of buyers include their philosophies about money and investing in their home-buying philosophy. For instance, many buyers stick to the old adage, "buy low, sell high," and place a huge emphasis on timing the market perfectly and finding undervalued properties. While no buyer adopts a philosophy of overpaying, some are determined not to delay the transaction with nickel-and-dime negotiations especially when the right house presents itself or the need requires a purchase despite market conditions.
- What is my timeline? Sometimes, there are special circumstances that make scheduling an important element of the decision-making process. For instance, are you trying to close escrow before the school year starts or before a job transfer takes effect? In these instances, you may need to include urgency as an important part of your philosophy--to make the right decision, but to make it quickly and without hesitation.
Creating a Profile For Your Home
Developing a reliable profile for your dream home before you begin looking at homes can clarify your priorities and simplify the process. Here is a simple way to build your own dream home profile.
Consider your lifestyle lifestyle. When you buy a home, you are buying a lifestyle. For instance, when you buy a home that is thirty minutes away from the office, you are implicitly committing to a lifestyle that includes one hour of commuting every day. When you buy a home with a big yard, you are committing to spend a lot of time gardening (or hiring someone who does). For this reason, it is important to think about your home in the context in which you will be using it. How will your home affect the church you go to, your daily exercise routine, and the friends your kids spend time with? Consider as many lifestyle variables as possible when developing your criteria.
Fixate on the permanent. When you are looking for a home, it is important to remember that some things are permanent and some things can be changed. Don't get caught up on the ugly carpet or the out-of-date wallpaper; they can be easily replaced. On the other hand, an annoyingly narrow hallway is part of the core structure of that home. If it bugs you now, it will drive you crazy once you have been living in the home for a few months. Fixate on these permanent elements of the home: location, floor plan, school district, homeowner association, tax rates, etc.
Make two lists. To develop the criteria for your home, you will basically need to make two lists--one containing your needs, and the other containing your wants. On your needs list, you should have only the two to five items that you absolutely cannot live without and cannot change once you move into the house. On this list, you might have things like: large kitchen, close to my child's school, and a breathtaking view. Your list of wants can be a much longer list and should contain all the things that you would like your house to have (even if they conflict with each other). On this list, you might find things like: long driveway, close to a major shopping center, walk-in closet, tile roof, newer appliances, and so on. Now, use the first list to eliminate properties and the second list to rank properties. In other words, when you look at a potential property, you can first look to see if it matches all of your needs. If it doesn't, discard it, since you are not willing to compromise on those three items. Once you find a few properties that match all of your needs, you can begin looking at your list of wants to see which property satisfies the largest number of meaningful wants. This is a very logical and effective way to evaluate and rank potential homes.
Evaluate locations carefully. Real estate is often said to be about the "three Ls: location, location, location." But there are several important (and often overlooked) things to consider when evaluating a location. The local economy is among the most important things to consider. Are new businesses moving into the area, or are established businesses closing down? A growing economy usually means appreciating housing values. Next, consider the overall cosmetics and age of the neighborhood. Have most of the homes been redone in recent years, or are they aging badly? Keep in mind that every time one of your neighbors mows his/her lawn or paints his/her house, your property value goes up a little. Of course, the reverse is true as well. Next, consider the public and community amenities. Are the parks well kept? Are the schools highly rated? Is the crime rate low? Take a look at upcoming ballot initiatives to see if the blank lot across the street is the site of a future library or a future landfill. All of these factors will play a role not only in the enjoyability of your home, but in its long-term value. Finally, consider location issues that are unique to the area. For instance, in many areas surrounding beaches and lakes, some properties are given first choice of boat slips, which increases the value of those properties substantially.
House Hunting Tips
- Searching for a home is a lot of fun when you prepare correctly and bring the right mindset. Follow these tips to get the most out of your house-hunting experience.
Take pictures It's amazing how ten homes will all just blur together at the end of the day. Take a lot of pictures at each home, so that you can remember and differentiate each home.
- Take consistent notes. Written notes are a good compliment to the pictures that you take. Make sure you are consistent in your note taking, so that you can compare notes between homes and share same with your Realtor ®..
- Meet the neighbors. If possible, talk to some of the neighbors. If you like the neighbors, there's a good chance you'll like the neighborhood. Also, neighbors can often provide details about the home, the area, and the seller that you may not find elsewhere.
- Be friendly. Sellers are often influenced by their impressions of potential buyers. If a seller likes you, (s)he will be easier to work with during the transaction.
- Don't criticize. It's tempting to criticize a home when you see things that you don't like, but you never know when the seller is listening in. No matter how much you hate the carpet, keep it to yourself until you are outside of the home.
- Pace yourself. There is a limit to the amount of information that you can process in a single day. Don't overdo it.
- Take breaks. Break up the day with coffee breaks, snack breaks, and bathroom breaks. Taking a few minutes to refresh after viewing every few homes will keep you sharp throughout the day.
- Wear comfortable clothe.s On house hunting days, you will be getting in and out of cars, walking up and down stairs, and walking around in back yards all day. In other words, you will want to have comfortable clothing and shoes.
BLOG: House Hunting with Little ones:
- Challenges kids are overcomable. There are quite a few challenges that present themselves when we are touring with our little ones. Children are joy to have around and bring a special atmosphere to the home buying experience. However, there are challenges to overcome too. Kids can become emotional during the house hunting stage. They fall in love with items like a bright pink room or under the stairs hide outs. These are items you don’t necessarily have on your “needs” list.
- Safety can be an issue: It is important to talk to them about not touching anything when touring a home and to remain in your site. Not all homes are child friendly and there may be a open pool, unsecured furnishing or animals on the property that can harm your child.
- Air Quality/Allergens. When touring property, children naturally will come into contact with pets, smoke, mold and other factors that may bring health issues. It is important to let your REALTOR know if there is a severe allergy to any of these items. Although your Realtor may not have knowledge about some of these items, they can alteady screen other agents/sellers prior to the tour to make sure that your child isn’t exposed to any harmful allergens.
- Get Ready for Tantrums: When kids don’t get what they want, they often do what most kids do is throwing a tantrum. At Prime we are very understanding of you needing to take some time work through a difficult moment.
- Activities. Children love to be our helpers. Involve them in jotting down notes or give them a camera where they can take pictures of their favorite part of the house.
- Rewards: Always great to bring a reward with you. We like to make special this a special experience and do take the time to show a local park and let the children play a bit, or go out for a slurpee run on a hot day.