beginners guide to house-searching

After living in the city for +5 years, we are flocking to the suburbs to buy a home. With this journey, there have been so many ups and downs and I want to share with you everything that we have learned along the way so that you can learn from our mistakes and lessons learned. Below are some tips for beginning your house-hunting search.

5 Tips For Beginning Your House-Hunting Search

Start Brainstorming Your Needs and Wants Before You Start Your Search

Before you even begin to grab your computer and search the web you will want to brainstorm your idea of the perfect home. You will want to start asking yourself (and your partner) a few questions.

  • List out your NEED TO HAVE items: These are necessities that you feel you can not live without. Be honest with yourself cause these items will be the backbone of your searches. Think big picture here. For example, how many acres, bedrooms, bathrooms, open floor plan vs not, etc.
  • List out your WANT TO HAVE items: This list should be secondary items. This could also consist of updates that you can do to an already existing house. This will help in deciding between different houses and choosing which might be the perfect option.

Decide on the Perfect Location

“Location, location, location,” you hear this all the time in real estate. The location that you choose plays a large role in the value of the house in the longterm and your happiness. Investopedia notes that there are 5 key factors in location:

  • Centrality: Where you choose to live in a city or town will play a significant role in the price of the house.
  • Development: You will always want to be forward-thinking when deciding on a property. Researching if there will be hospitals, schools, stores, or industries being built in the future can play a large role in improving the value of your soon to be home.
  • Neighborhood: The neighborhood that you decide to live in will be your personal choice. Although items like amenities,  accessibility, and appearance, will play a role in increasing the value of your location. You will also want to think about the school system as this plays a large role in many home buyer’s decision to purchase a home.
  • Lot Location: Where is the house located within the property? Does it back up next to a noisy and busy main road? Or does it sit tucked behind the trees with a bustling stream in the distance? These items might not seem significant but they will be a large factor in your re-sell value.
  • The House Itself: “There’s one aspect of house hunting that tends to surprise people. Let’s say you’ve narrowed your choices to two homes that stand side by side in a great neighborhood. One needs repairs and updates but has a huge lot. The other is in tip-top shape but sits on a lot half the size of the fixer-upper. The prices of the two homes are similar. Which do you choose? In most cases, the house in need of repairs is the better investment.” This is because you can always add to the house but you can never change the size of the land.

Most of all pick a place that you love and can imagine yourself living in. Drive into the town centers and listen to your intuition because this will be where you call home in the future.

Price out Your Home Budget

Price is VERY important. Before making such a large investment you will want to know how much you can afford. The best step here will be reaching out to mortgage companies to see how much you are preapproved for. You will want to keep in mind, that even though a bank can pre-approve you for X amount, can you really afford it?

Calculate how much income your household is currently making and think about what you can comfortably spend moving forward. Maybe you don’t mind eating in and saving money for a few months but will you need to drastically change the way you live in order to afford this house?

What if you unfortunately lose your job, will you have extra savings to pay for things while you look for a new one?

Also, you will want to remember that there are always closing costs. Typically, closing costs will be between 2% to 5% of the house. For example, a $200,000 home could cost you around $4,000 to $10,000 in closing costs.

Surf the Web and Start Looking at Houses In-Person

We are so lucky to have the internet. You can now view millions of properties right from your desktop. Below are some of my top favorite sites to use:

Create filters on these sites to get email alerts of when new properties appear within your criteria. Reach out to realtors to view properties and start going to see houses in person.

You will only really know what you like and do not like about homes by going and seeing them. You might think that you are okay with a closed floor plan but seeing it in person realizes that you prefer an open floor plan. The more you go and see, the more you will learn about what you truly want and need in a home.

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Be Optimistic

Buying a home is a long process. There will be many ups and downs along the way. Stay positive and know that the right home for you is there and you will find it if you stay focused and motivated throughout your search. And with a fresh coat of paint and a little elbow grease, you can make any house a home!

Stay tuned for more articles coming soon on additional tips for beginning your house-hunting search. Like always, comment below on your thoughts and what you have learned during your home searches!