Buying property or a home has always been considered an important aspect of the American Dream. Far too often, though, that dream can quickly flip to nightmare status if missteps are made. You certainly don’t want to end up with a money pit that you have zero chance of re-selling, so how can you protect yourself? Check out these ten pointers for making sure your purchase is a sound one.
- Location, location, location. Yes, it’s an often-heard phrase, but there’s a reason why this is the number one tip pros like to share to those considering buying property. If you’re shopping for a primary residence, you want to ensure the property is central to most of your activities, such as work, school and shopping. Nice-to-haves include perks like dining or leisure activities. Be aware of the planned future development of the area you are looking to purchase a home or property. Look online for municipal meeting minutes and review their long-term plans. Granted, some of the plans may not come to fruition, but considering municipal development goals can tell you a lot about the town priorities.
- Look for a solid structure. If you’re buying an existing property that you plan to renovate rather than building, it’s important to ensure that the house is structurally sound. Always, always, ALWAYS (did we mention always?) get an independent inspection of the building and all of its associated systems. If you don’t, you could be looking at a real headache down the road.
- Look at ALL related expenses. When determining your budget, don’t just stop with principal, interest, taxes and insurance. Add in the costs of utilities, commuting, home owners’ association fees, and any upgrades you want to make. Call the utility companies and ask for estimates.
- Make sure it’s worth the $$$. Of course, you’re going to get an appraisal before you consider buying property, so you’ll know how much value the it holds. But also take into consideration what types of future improvements you can make to increase that value in the years to come. Think long and hard before you purchase that larger property that is less expensive because it is in a less desirable location. if you plan on selling the house in 10 years or less and are planning on significant home improvements, you can easily over-improve your home.
- Be practical. Home buying is an emotional process, but allowing your heart to overrule your brain can often lead to bad decision making. It is nice to envision yourself living in the home, but often these visions do not take into consideration any compromises your making. Make a checklist of your must-haves and nice-to-haves. Viewing many houses can get overwhelming, so take the checklist with you to every property and tick the boxes. Take pictures, too.
- Look past the ugly wallpaper. This tip requires a little imagination, especially for properties that need renovation or are cluttered with the current home owner’s personal items. It’s important to look at the flow and layout of the house, rather than the magenta paint and horrid light fixture in the dining room. Cosmetic issues are easily remedied.
- Communicate. If you’re building a home, stay in close communication with your builder or project manager. Nothing can ruin a project faster than failing to keep in touch and providing feedback. If you’re buying an existing property, communication with your Realtor® is also important. Don’t assume anything.
- Don’t be afraid to walk. Even if you swear this is your dream home, if the seller won’t budge on certain items that are important to you (such as needed repairs), walk away. This is a financial transaction (see Tip #5), and if the negotiation stalls, you can be assured other properties are out there.
- Hire experience. When you build a home, it’s crucial that you work with a contractor who has an excellent reputation. Search review sites such as Houzz as well as the Better Business Bureau, to help ensure there are no surprises. Ask for references.
Enjoy the process. Whether you’re buying or building, mistakes will be made and you’ll experience a little (or a lot of) stress. Take time to unwind.