What You Need to Consider When House Shopping

Updated on November 18, 2019
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Dreamworker has lived in and also sold many types of real estate and alternative living options.

Buying a house is a big decision because the choices you make now will impact things such as your comfort level, your finances and whether you can live happily in the property you've purchased.

People make lots of assumptions about houses they are considering, but this is never a good idea. So, the first rule is to assume nothing.

If you take the time to inspect carefully and go with the facts rather than the fantasy, you'll always buy property that will work better for you in the long run.

For example, it is a mistake to assume that a newly constructed house will be problem free or that a loan approval from a bank means you'll actually be able to afford the property you wish to purchase.

Furthermore, a house may look great on the surface, but it can still hide issues you might never know about unless you investigate every aspect of it.

Below are some tips that will help you to avoid trouble and help you to have a good home buying experience.

Information that will help home buyers to choose properties that will meet their needs.
Information that will help home buyers to choose properties that will meet their needs. | Source

Should You Hire a Realtor?

Many people think that realtors charge too much for what they do, so they try to save money buy eliminating this step. What often happens when they do this is that the seller simply adds what they would have paid the realtor to their asking price, so there is no financial benefit whatsoever for the buyer.

Furthermore, a realtor can save you a great deal of time by guiding you to properties that offer what you want at a price you can afford to pay.

Additionally, few people know how to negotiate deals because their emotions get in the way. A realtor acts as a referee and often can create deals that otherwise wouldn't work out.

A good realtor has the ability to show you what homes are selling for, which can help you to determine if the asking price is within reason.

Also, any realtor can take you into similarly priced homes so that you can check their conditions, but your own realtor is much more likely to be honest with you about a home's issues. Not all homes that are similarly priced are worth the same money because some may have had serious upgrades while others may have had few or none.

The seller usually pays realty fees, but you should be aware that their agent works for them, not you. The one you are paying works for you!

In short you get a lot of benefit but pay nothing unless you decide to employ a second realtor. Most people don't do this, and you don't have to, but it can be an idea that will save you a good deal of trouble and money given the right circumstances.

How Much House Can You Afford to Buy?

It's extremely important for buyers to crunch the numbers so they know whether they can afford to buy a particular house. People tend to think that the asking price is all that is involved, but this is far from the truth.

Before closing the deal you need to know how much it will cost to maintain the property.

These are not small expenses and can be costly enough to make a home out of your budget, even if the principal and interest are within your means.

If you cannot make repairs yourself, do some research to find out how much it will cost you to employ workers to take care of them. These, too, are expensive items. In some places it can cost as much as $125 to have someone come and clean your house!

If you must borrow money, you need to understand that the amount you'll have to repay can easily triple the base cost of the home due to interest that the bank will charge.

You'll also have to pay for an appraisal, document fees and other initial costs in addition to fees for homeowner's insurance, flood insurance, property taxes, water sewer, electric and gas as well as various amounts of money for items such as lawn care, painting and other maintenance costs.

I've attached a video that explains actual dollar amounts for many of these things, and you can use it as a guide to help you determine your own expenses.

The bottom line is that home ownership is expensive, and you have to make sure that before you buy, you have enough money to manage these costs.

Is There a House That Will Work for You?

Once you know what you can afford to spend, make it a point to look at homes whose prices fall into your budget.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can somehow come up with enough money to pay more than you have because doing this is a good way to find yourself dealing with foreclosure proceedings.

If you don't look, you won't be tempted to buy, so stick to your budget if you want to avoid financial problems down the road.

The lower your budget, the more difficult it will be to find a property, but if you persevere, eventually you'll find something that you like and that you can afford.

If this does not happen within a reasonable amount of time, you may have to find an alternative type of property such as a mobile home, recreational vehicle or tiny house. While this may not be an ideal solution, it is certainly worth considering.

Take Care With Your House's Location

The better a house's location, the more it will cost. However, choosing less costly housing because it is poorly located can bring all sorts of problems your way.

Stay away from

  • noisy traffic patterns,
  • locations that are too far from schools, grocery stores and hospitals,
  • neighborhoods that owners do not maintain properly and
  • places where owners have noisy, dangerous or uncontrolled pets.

These things may not seem like they would be big issues but anything that disturbs the quiet enjoyment of your home can become upsetting over time and cause real problems for you.

Also, if you live to far from schools, medical facilities and shopping you quickly are going to tire of having to drive long distances to get to these places, and you certainly are going to become unhappy with the accompanying gasoline costs!

You also have to take care when considering expensive areas. I have friends who purchased a water front condo in a gated community for which they paid more than $600,000. All of their neighbors are richer than they are and think nothing of voting in upgrades that cost them thousands of unexpected dollars.

Bottom line? Stick with your price range when choosing locations or it could really cost you!

Do neighbors have dogs you fear may create problems for you?
Do neighbors have dogs you fear may create problems for you? | Source

Investigate Everything!

Building and Grounds

You should always check the building and grounds to see if

  • the roof is in good condition,
  • the grounds have been well-maintained,
  • fences and gates are in good repair,
  • concrete is level and
  • garage doors are working.

Systems

Check to see if the

  • sprinkler systems are in good working order,
  • external electric connections are working and
  • swimming pool pumping and filtering systems are keeping the pool in good condition.

Interior

Pay close attention to the following things inside the house:

Odors

You should always follow the hints your nose gives you when entering a house because doing so will let you know if

  • the house is clean,,
  • there is any mold or mildew,
  • if the owner is a smoker and
  • if animals have been permitted to live inside.

Floors

You should always carefully inspect the floors for

  • water damage,
  • multiple layers of vinyl,
  • cracks in ceramic tile and
  • condition of carpet.

Cabinets, Closets and Counters

You should look for

  • staining,
  • scratches and other types of damage,
  • water damaged surfaces and
  • ease of us

Walls

Look for

  • outdated wallpaper,
  • odd colors,
  • irregularities and
  • smells

Appliances

Check to see if the following appliances are working, are free of rust, residue, odors and also ask how old they are.

  • air conditioning units,
  • hot water heater
  • stove,
  • refrigerator,
  • washer and dryer,
  • dishwasher

Floor Plan

Look for

  • rooms that are spacious and properly placed,
  • kitchens that are located away from bedrooms but close to dining areas and patios and
  • bathrooms that are big enough to be comfortable for daily use.

Buy a House That Meets Your Needs

When buying a home, people should bear in mind that the

  • affordability,
  • condition and
  • location

are every bit as important as the property itself.

If you pay attention to the attached video you'll see perfect examples of why this is true. It will do you know good to purchase a home you fall in love with only to find that your neighbor is selling drugs or the people who live across the street never mow their lawns.

What may seem a small issue can loom large over time and change your dream house into the property from hell.

This is why it’s so important for you to do a thorough inspection and crunch the financial numbers before making a final decision.

Knowing what to look for and keeping a list of those items go a long way towards helping you know if a house is right for you.

Once you buy it, you're going to live in it for a long time, so make sure you do your homework before you buy.

Do you think following the advice in this article will help you to find a house that works for you?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Sondra Rochelle

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