If you’ve purchased a home before, you are likely familiar with some of the more recognizable rules of home buying: get pre-approved, secure your 20% down payment, don’t search for homes outside of your budget. These are all important aspects of buying a home. But when it comes to the home itself, there are seemingly a million little details to consider before making a purchase. You, however, don’t have to miss a beat. For you, we’ve created a home buyer’s checklist, a rundown of all the most important things to consider—other than money—when buying a home.
The three most important factors in choosing a home are…well, you’ve heard it all before. Location. It is a significant part of the home buying experience, but for more reasons than simply desirability and resale potential.
Location impacts everything: your proximity to work, your property taxes, and, you guessed it, even the size of your lot. Where you choose to look for—or buy—a house influences your lifestyle in more ways than one. Do you already have a neighborhood in mind for your next home purchase? Here are things to consider when looking at your home’s location.
Your commute to work, school, the gym, or anywhere else you go on a daily basis will affect your lifestyle, your time, and even your social life. Where your home is in proximity to the places and people you visit most often is certainly not a deal breaker, but it is worth considering.
If you’re accustomed to popping down to the store at the base of your apartment building anytime you need some milk, then moving to the suburbs may come with some culture shock. Considering the nearness of shops, restaurants, entertainment, and even gas stations will help you determine what local conveniences are most important to have nearby when you choose a home.
Every county in your state has its own local ordinances, codes, and even property tax rates. Purchasing a home just one street over from the county line could change which schools your children will attend, how much you’ll pay in taxes, vehicle licensing, and how close to your neighbor’s property you can build that shed you’ve always wanted.
When it comes to a potential new neighborhood, home buyers have a lot to consider. Neighborhoods can often come with their own share of regulations. For instance, does the area you’re considering require HOA fees? Are you limited in the size of the lot that you can purchase? Can you raise chickens, grow produce, or start your own urban homestead? As you look at homes to purchase, consider visiting and revisiting the neighborhoods you’re considering. If you have kids, ask your real estate agent (or future neighbors) how many other kids live in the neighborhood, how friendly it is, and if there are any annual events or activities. All of these things play a role, even if minor, in your experience of a new home.
You may be thinking that worrying about the condition of your home is what the inspection is for. And yes, it is. But there are many aspects of a home that will pass inspection but may not pass your own personal requirements for that cozy, cottage feel.
Don’t worry, we’re not talking about ghost stories and haunted houses. Rather, the construction, damage, and repair history of your home. Say, for instance, you are looking at homes that are built within a 100-year floodplain. You happen to know that just such a flood took place a few years back. But was your future home damaged in any way? If so, were those issues fixed, ignored, or still unresolved? Home inspections can’t catch everything, but by asking the right questions and understanding the history of the area—and the house—you can eliminate undetected issues like water damage and mold that will end up costing you more money down the road.
Whether you like your windows to face north, south, east, or west, when looking at a potential home to buy, pay attention to where the windows are in each room. How much light do they let in? You can even visit the home at different times of the day to get an idea of the natural light in each space. Not only that but pay close attention to the quality and condition of the windows and doors. Check for energy efficiency and ask the owners if or when they were last replaced. This can have a huge impact on your energy bill going forward.
The number of bedrooms and bathrooms obviously plays a significant role in your home buying experience. How those bedrooms and bathrooms are positioned in the home is also important. As you tour different houses, try to get a feel for the flow from room to room. You may try to convince yourself that anything can be changed, but if renovations and rehabs aren’t in your future, then it will help to find a home with a layout you love, or at the very least, like.
Foundation issues and new roofs are costly, which is why including these in your personal home inspection checklist is valuable. Ask your agent to help you investigate when a homeowner last replaced their roof, or if there are common foundation issues in the area due to flooding, erosion, or soil type. If you decide to move forward with buying the home, then these will be more thoroughly checked in your official home inspection.
If you have been pre-approved for a mortgage and are ready to begin seriously searching for that perfect home, then finding an experienced, local agent should be next on your list. In fact, when you partner with the right agent, they will help navigate you through the list of things to pay attention to when buying a home, and then some. Consider your agent your local expert guide, someone who is so familiar with the area that they can point out hidden gems and unexpected county ordinances to ensure you’re getting the best possible home for you and your family.
How do you find your own hyper-local expert? LemonBrew helps match trusted, local agents with home buyers like you in order to help you navigate the home buying process with ease. And maybe even enjoy it. LemonBrew’s partnered agents each have specialized skills, knowledge, and experience—which makes matching you with the most qualified agent as simple as understanding your home purchasing goals and needs. Not only that, but working with a LemonBrew agent also means you save money when you finally find that perfect home. To find the best local agent for your next home purchase, sign up for free and start exploring your neighborhood for the home that checks all—or most—of those things on your home-buying checklist.