Spend Your New Home Hunting Time Wisely
When it comes to looking for a new home to buy, time really is money. That’s because your decision on which house to spend your money on is one you’re going to have to live with for a long, long time. So use your time efficiently, but don’t be in a hurry to find a house unless you absolutely have no other choice.
Your home search should take more than a weekend or two. This is an incredibly large and important purchase. One you don’t want to make in haste and regret at leisure! So it’s definitely not a good idea to do this on a whim or off the cuff. Think months, not weeks, in terms of your search. But first, before you start driving around and looking, come here to the New Homes Guide to see the many fine offerings of beautiful new homes in great neighborhoods. Then, if you wish, find a Realtor or Broker who will tell you the good and bad points of a home and neighborhood, and work to get you the best deal. Next, check to see if your finances and credit history are in order; then, go shopping for a mortgage company. If all goes as planned, you will be pre-approved for a mortgage loan.
Lists are important
Now the “fun” begins. Sit down and make a list. One column of your list should be titled “Wants.” And another column should be titled “Needs.” Never, ever confuse the two—because they’re not always the same thing. For instance, you may want the kind of mansion that you’ve seen featured in design magazines and in articles on celebrity homes. But what you need is three bedrooms, at least two baths, and a neighborhood that’s near good schools for your kids.
Other things you might want to consider adding to one column or the other on your list:
- A single level or multi-level home
- A Homeowners Association
- A home in a gated community
- A home in a master-planned community
- A deck
- A swimming pool
- Room for a home office
- A guest room
- A large kitchen
- A big garage
- A certain style of architecture
- A specific neighborhood
- Mature trees and/or nice landscaping
- A large backyard for a playground or garden
- A formal dining room
- A privacy fence
- A sumptuous Master bath
- Lots of closet and storage space
Once you’ve figured out what you do need or want, spend a little more time on the list—by creating a new column for things that you “Don’t Want.” Maybe that’s a home that needs lots of fixing or remodeling. Or a location that’s too near a busy street, highway, or landfill. Or a home with a floor plan that’s nice, but makes absolutely no sense with the way you live.
Take your time making the lists. When you’re absolutely sure that you’ve thought of everything, then you’re ready to start looking at houses. Take your lists with you. If you decide to work with a Realtor, give a copy to him or her, too. Refer to the lists frequently. It will keep you on track and in touch with reality. It will help you make logical decisions—as opposed to emotional ones. After all, you don’t want to go falling in love with a house that you can’t afford. Or one that gets sold while you’re looking. Or one that doesn’t have the things you truly need—but seems like a really good deal. By the way, while you are doing your advance homework, your Realtor will be using his or her time productively, too. Pulling together research on the kind of homes you’re looking for—what they’re selling for, what neighborhoods they’re in—and so forth.
Of course, you can (and should) spend time doing your own research. Look through the real estate section of the newspaper. Check websites, especially our New Homes Guide online. Magazines like the New Homes Guide are chockfull of information, too. Finally, a really important yearly event—the Parade of Homes in April and May, should be a Must Do. Visit all the homes on the Parade and get a real-time idea of interiors, exteriors, and neighborhoods. Meet the builders and sales representatives. Ask questions. If you find something that sounds or looks interesting, make an appointment to talk to the builder, or have your Realtor check it out. Most of all, be patient and persistent. Invest enough quality time in finding a home, and you’ll end up with THE one that’s exactly right for you—in every possible way.