What to Consider When Buying a Home

By Beacon Staff

So you’ve decided to buy a home. It’s easy to let emotions take over and get in the way of making an informed choice. It’s important not to get amnesia about the important factors that may make a difference. As you narrow down the selections, there are a few considerations to aid in the process.

Falling in love with a property is easy to do. Making sure it’s right for you isn’t always. Timing is important. Visit at various hours of the day. That seemingly quiet residential street may be noisy during morning or evening rush hour; or it may be fairly impossible to get from your quiet street across traffic and out onto the main street in the morning. The adjacent school may seem like a nice perk if you’re buying in the summer, but during the school year, daily playground noise and extra traffic may be more than you anticipated.

Some homebuyers like to take the time to talk to the neighbors. There are some details that can only be discovered in conversation. Is the neighborhood made up of homeowners or renters, are there families with small children or older children, maybe retirees? Ask if the neighborhood has an association; and make some other simple inquiries. Are there neighborhood meetings, maybe a block party or community picnic, or neighborhood garage sales? Even if you don’t plan to attend, the fact that they’re having a gathering says they care about their community, that they want to get to know each other, and that they’re willing to socialize that way. People who behave in a certain manner are building a community. They’re going to look out for your kids; they’re going to look out for your house.

When people are ready to purchase, they often choose to get a home inspection. Virtually all houses have some issues, according to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents. Some will be obvious and most will be curable. But knowing what needs to be fixed can help you negotiate a proper price – or at least prepare you for costs you may incur. Sometimes the current owners are willing to give details about past improvements or repairs. Understanding what has gone on in the past is usually a good way to be ready for future projects. Don’t just assume remodeling will be simple. If you can discuss ideas with the sellers or through their realtor, you may be able to discover valuable insights.
If you are working with a real estate professional and the home that you are interested in is listed on the local MLS, chances are high that utility bills will be readily accessible. It is a good idea to ask to view them. It is better to have a full understanding of the monthly charges associated with the property you are considering. You may adore a craftsman bungalow architectural style or the high ceilings and walls of glass in a modern home – but those winter heating and summer cooling bills may push your monthly payments beyond what’s personally comfortable.

Pay close attention to taxes. Don’t just ask what the seller’s most recent tax bill was; ask what past tax bills have been. Houses are re-appraised – and taxed at higher rates – every two years locally. That good investment may not seem quite so attractive if the property taxes skyrocket year after year. Look at local newspaper archives or talk to your realtor about the way taxes are calculated and assessed. In some areas, schools are substantially funded through property taxes – which is important information to have.

It is a wise idea to check into the property’s and neighborhood’s zoning, as well as any potential easements, liens or other restrictions relating to your property. Sellers should disclose these facts, but it’s always smart to verify. If you’re using a buyer’s agent, he or she should be able to help you with this.

If you are relocating, explore the surrounding area. It’s important to discover if the home is near an airport, fire station, police station, hospital or railroad track. It is not always desirable to hear trains, planes or ambulances throughout the day and night. Adverse material facts are disclosed by sellers, however most homeowners liked their house enough to buy originally and have an emotional attachment to it. Make sure you’re not too close to an area that may generate odors or kick up dust or other airborne problems.

As you make your final decision, reconsider the bells and whistles. Can you live with a detached garage? Does the beautiful wall of windows compensate for the lack of square footage you’d prefer? Is the pool an asset, or will it hinder resale? It is truly easy to become emotionally attached to a property. Let level heads prevail, do the necessary research and make the correct choice for you.

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