With the real estate market already starting to warm up, buyers are already starting to get themselves ready to start looking for their new home. Looking for and purchasing a home can bring a lot of emotions with it and then you add a sellers' market into the equation and it can become quite a maddening process for a buyer. Hopefully, you have a good Realtor to help you with the process...ahem, call me if you don't. ;)
To get you started on your own, though, it is a good idea to put some of your ideas on paper so you can sort through your needs and wants. You might be purchasing this home with a partner, so you would want the both of you to go through this process and then...wait for it...discuss with each other what you both want in a home! I know, this is a crazy concept, but you have no idea how many buyers I work with who are NOT on the same page when it comes to what they want in a home. There's always some sort of a compromise or "happy medium" that we can come to when it comes to finding a home that will work for the entire family...so don't worry. Once you have your list with your preferred choices, I would then suggest going out to view some homes to get an idea of what is out there. In our current world of Instagram and Facebook, we have the entire universe at our fingertips...including photos of Jennifer Aniston's Pocket Garden Sanctum, J Lo's Bel Air Mansion or basically anything going on with any one of the Kardashian's. That being said, pictures are not always a proper representation of a home. Pictures are meant to help sell the home, so the lighting and angles will be manipulated sometimes to enhance everything good about a property...which can obviously be misleading. The same is also true with some photos that don't do a home justice. It is really best in some cases to go and take a look in person, if the home looks good on paper and checks all your boxes. Speaking of boxes, contact me and I'd be happy to email you a copy of the House Hunting Checklist!
I recently came across a very good article about buying a home, so I'd like to share it with you. I hope you find it helpful and remember...the market is already heating up, so contact me and let's get your checklist together and start looking for your home!
"A Home Buying Checklist: Organize Your Wants and Needs"
Finding the right home can mean separating what you want from what you need. Here's how to think about the difference.
If you came to me as a prospective home buyer and asked to go out shopping for houses, there are two things I would ask you:
1. What do you want in a house and
2. What do you need in a house?
To many people, this subtlety is lost. If buyers tell me their home needs to be at the end of a cul-de-sac, so be it: they're the clients.
But let's be honest: You need a roof over your head, running water, heat, and...depending on your latitude...maybe air conditioning. But you want four bedrooms, a white picket fence, and a pool.
If you're planning on buying a home anytime soon, let me give you some helpful advice: Be prepared to distinguish needs from wants so that you can be confident about which homes you want to make offers on when the time comes. Here's how:
Start with your dream home...
Envision your ideal home. Does it have a huge plot of land for your dogs to run around? Or is it a high-rise condo overlooking big city lights? Where is it and what makes it special to you? Now, think about your budget: How much house can you really afford?
If you're ready to shop for homes, you should have already gotten a pre-approval from a lender. So, with that price in mind, you may need to forgo some of the wants. Unsure what's reasonable and what's not in your price range? This is where your agent comes in. One of the main roles of a real estate agent is to know the area, know what homes are going for, and about how much added features...like an additional bedroom or a pool...should add to the price.
...then work backwards
As you put together the picture of your dream home, you may discover that there are features you don't want to sacrifice and for which you're willing to pay more. Maybe it's living within a thirty minute drive from work, an open kitchen or family room, or even something less common, like wheelchair access for a family member.
Sometimes, the wants are easy to distinguish from needs because you'll find yourself saying "a pool might be nice." But another way to look at it is: wants are things that you can add or change on your own.
For example, maybe you're a Chargers fan and want a home with yellow walls and blue carpet. Obviously, with a little effort, it's easy to change these things after you move. If you watch cable house-hunting shows, it can be maddening to see couples turn down home after home because the flooring isn't right or it doesn't have a patio.
Some people don't even want to consider getting their hands dirty and working on their home themselves, but trust me, finding a great home at a good price is infinitely easier when you're flexible on wants.
Focus on "value items"
In real estate, a value item is a feature that adds value to the property to future buyers.
When evaluating your needs and wants, it's a good idea to consider value items with more weight than things that are personal preference but add little value.
Items that add value include dual-pane windows, granite countertops, hardwood floors, land, nice landscaping (but don't forget you'll have to maintain it) and even intangibles like a beautiful view and being in a top-rated school district.
A great real estate agent will be able to help you determine the difference between a valuable feature and a personal touch.
Of course, some big features don't always add value. For example: Does a pool add value? It depends. Lee Dworshak of Keller Williams LA Harbor Realty explains on the National Association of Realtors website:
"Those buyers who want a house with a pool are usually not willing to pay much for it and in some areas of the country having a pool may even be perceived as a negative to many prospective buyers. Some folks just don't like them or have young children and are afraid of the safety risks."
So a pool is kind of a toss-up depending on where you live.
Anything too personal may lack value in terms of resale...or even subtract it. Examples I've seen include a giant mediation platform in the backyard, chicken-coops, or bright yellow walls. You may fall in love with the giant mural that the current homeowners painted in their child's room. After all, your son loves He-Man too! Just keep in mind that when you go to sell, someone will want to repaint over it, and they'll count the cost of repainting when they consider what to pay for the home. Things that add value are generally thought of as beautiful, safe or convenient by the majority of people. Things with no value are special to you for a reason that other people might not understand or want.
As you prepare to buy a home, remember that no home is perfect. Whether finding a place to rent or buy, you will always end up making compromises. But with a good understanding of what's most important to you, what you can live without and what will add value to the home, finding the right one will be easier.