March 12th, 2015
Choosing a home is such a personal thing. We may love a home like the one we grew up in, or we may dream of a Craftsman style, or one with a wrap around porch. And we’re starting up with home buying season, and if you’re in the market for a new home, you may need to look at quite a few before you find the one that clicks.
So we found some good tips for you:
Zillow wrote a great article on the 10 things that make a home a good home:
1. Location, location, location
Location location location matters on so many different levels. At the highest level is the town where the house is located, then the school district, then the neighborhood and the block — right down to the location of the lot on the block. Keep all of this in mind when shopping. Also remember that while real estate markets rise and fall, no one can take a great location away from you.
2. The school district
Parents want their kids to go to the best school, which can drive up prices of homes in those districts. Even though you might not have children, buying a home in a good school district is always smart. If the schools are desirable, homes tend to hold their value. As a homeowner, you should always be aware of how the schools are doing, not unlike being aware of your roof’s condition, the neighborhood development or city government.
3. The home’s position on the lot
Where the home sits on the lot in relation to the street or the overgrown oak are key elements in picking out a home. In the case of a condo, an end unit vs. an interior unit is a key consideration. You may have chosen the most beautifully renovated home in the best school district and figure all is good. But if the main living areas are shaded by a neighbor’s extension or the master bedroom looks into the neighbors’ family room, you may have a location problem. Light or privacy may not be a hot button for you, but chances are, they might be concerns for a future buyer.
It’s a good idea to check the latest crime figures for a neighborhood. It can give you a good snapshot about the number and severity of crimes over a time period
More than ever, ‘walkability’ is becoming a key factor in the search process. There are entire websites, apps and algorithms that help people figure out how walkable their future home is.
6. The neighborhood’s character
You may have found the absolute most perfect home, on the best block, in the best school district and on a great lot. But there could be circumstances outside your control that may give you pause — specifically, the character of the surrounding neighborhood.
Check out the area late at night, early morning and in the middle of the day. See if there are any odd weather or traffic patterns and try to observe some of the neighbors. You may even go so far as talking to some neighbors. It’s important to walk around, open your eyes and ears and make sure there isn’t anything you’re overlooking. That next-door neighbor practicing drums in the garage at 9 p.m. could be a source of immediate neighbor conflict. Go into it with eyes wide open.
7. Don’t buy the best house on the block
Simply put, avoid buying the best house on the block because there may not be any room for your investment to grow (unless you physically have the house moved to a better neighborhood). It’s better to buy the worst house on the best block, because you can improve the house to add value to an already great location.
8. Is it a fixer-upper?
If you’re buying a fixer-upper, make sure you understand what you’re getting into. Did you set out to buy a home that needed work? Or does the home just happen to be in the most desirable neighborhood, the block of your dreams?
Do your homework upfront. If you want to build an extension or add another story to the property, make sure it is within local zoning or building codes. Have the property inspected so that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
9. Will the home hold its value?
A good real estate agent who’s been working the neighborhood for some time can vouch for the long-term value or investment potential of the property. But be sure to find ways to add value, or at least be certain the home will hold its value.
10. Taxes, dues and fees
Many people overlook the monthly fees associated with homeownership. Nearly every property will have taxes, and any sort of planned community or homeowners association (HOA) will have regular assessments.
Most counties have a website that allows you to look up historical property tax data.
While we may fall in love with a home, we need to remember it’s a large investment, and needs to be treated as such. Are you looking for a new home?