The time has come to make the move. You have reached the point where the decision to purchase your first house is just waiting on you to take the next step. The thought of a multiple decade long mortgage is daunting. Making a loan of this magnitude is never an easy choice. Questions come faster than answers for awhile. You have so many important considerations when buying a house. It works best to break them down into a few smaller pieces and deal with them one at a time.
How much house do you need?
When buying a house, your needs should be more important than your wants. List your needs first. This should be a relatively short list. You must decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms are required for your family to function. If you already own furniture, you need enough floor space in the various rooms for it to all fit if you plan to keep it.
Do not forget to consider storage needs.
If you are a pack rat, you may want to limit the amount of storage to restrict your collecting tendencies. However, if you have to maintain more than one type of clothing because of job and hobby requirements, you may need significant extra closet and storage space available.
Count the garage, basement, and possible out buildings into your space requirements.
Houses come with a large variety of different areas that can be used for storage or living space. A two or three car garage can offer enough surplus room for a work area or extra closets. A house with a dry basement may be able to handle an extra bedroom or two and perhaps a bathroom if it can be used as a lower level rather than just a basement. At the very least, basements give most houses a good place for the laundry room and some possible exercise equipment.
Detached garages and other types of detached buildings and sheds can take a lot of pressure off of interior storage space. All yard equipment and tools can stored there. Sometimes a nice building can be turned into a work shop area or even become extra entertainment space if it is nice enough and large enough.
After needs, you should consider your wants when buying a house.
Part of the fun of buying something as large and expensive as a house is being able to get something more than just a place to live and store your stuff. A larger kitchen area is a desirable extra for many home buyers. Having a large fenced yard can be a big plus if pets or children are involved. A nice patio or deck can up the entertainment potential of a new house. A house that is more of a turnkey purchase than a fixer-upper can be a big plus. A swimming pool or bonus room can be a great extra that often adds little or nothing to the home’s purchase price.
Think about resale and appreciation potential.
This normally means look at the location. Study not only what the location is like today, but what it will be like 3 to 5 years from now when you consider selling it. Check on what type of development will be coming to the area. Investigate whether businesses are moving in or moving out. Look at neighborhoods surrounding this one. If they are declining, there is a good chance that this neighborhood is the next one to slide. Are the schools being improved both physically and academically? If this property will still be in a good market in a few years, odds are that it will have nice appreciation to repay you with equity at sale time.
Begin investigating financing options before writing purchase contracts.
Since most contracts include a financing condition as part of the sale, it is a good idea to know what type of loan you may want and be able to qualify to obtain. Check out fixed rate mortgages and adjustable rates. Know the potential closing costs and upfront loan points that will be required to complete the purchase at closing. If possible, go to your lender and get pre-qualified for enough money to buy the type of house you are seeking. This way, only the house will have to qualify for the loan before the closing date. It increases your bargaining power and shortens the period from the signed contracts to the closing.
Have a thorough home inspection performed as a contract stipulation.
The roof, plumbing, electric, and structure of the house should be completely inspected before agreeing to close on the house. You need to know what you have bought. Include in this inspection, a look for termites and insect damage. Consider having it checked for radon gas and mold or mildew. If it is fully carpeted, you may need have it inspected for fleas and other pests. It is best if this inspection can be performed on an empty house. If the inspection is done while the owners still occupy the house, insist on a final walk through inspection after they have vacated before signing the closing papers.
Use a good real estate agent.
The best way to find a good agent is to ask everyone you know who has recently bought a house similar to what you are buying for the name of their agent. Only use the names of the agents that got good reviews from the buyers. Arrange to meet three or four of these agents. Discuss your real estate plans with them and decide from their which one seems to fit your personality best. You have to be able to trust your agent to work on your behalf during the selection and negotiating process. Try to stick with one agent until the purchase is completed unless problems arise.