Are you thinking of buying a house? We’ll go over the top 4 must-haves for buying a house that every prospective buyer should keep an eye out for.
The entire process of buying a home can be overwhelming. There are so many different factors that go into what’s likely one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. If this is your first home, you may not be sure how to differentiate between a red flag and a green light. While your real estate agent will work with you individually on your own unique concerns and desires, there are a few must-haves for buying a house that apply to everyone. You’ll want to find the best home in the best neighborhood that you won’t outgrow any time soon.
Whether you’ve already started checking out houses or you’re just about to start, we’ll cover the most important things you should look for.
Top 4 Must-Haves for Buying a House
The best house for your financial situation might look a little different from the house of your wildest dreams. Sticking to a conservative, realistic budget will help you live more comfortably and avoid drowning in debt. Before you start looking at houses, use a mortgage calculator to calculate your monthly mortgage payment, property tax costs, and insurance costs. That will help you get a good idea of how much house you can really afford. (A good rule of thumb is that you can afford a mortgage that’s 2-2.5 times your gross annual salary.)
Once you’ve determined how much house you can realistically afford, stick to your decision. Great real estate agents will help you and respect your finances by only showing you houses within your price range.
When you’re looking at houses, it’s tempting to jump at any low price tag you see. But be careful! No matter how good of a deal you get on the house itself, certain maintenance problems can cost you a fortune down the road. So it’s no wonder that 39% of recent homebuyers listed “looking to avoid renovations and problems” as their top priority when buying a home.
While some structural problems can only be detected by a professional inspector, certain warning signs are easy to spot, including:
- Bad smells (or strong scents masking them!)
- Warped walls
- Roof damage
- Deteriorating rain gutters
- Poor water pressure or leaks
- Rotten trim
- Uneven or sinking floors
If you do notice that any of those areas could use some touching-up, write them down. Do some research to determine how much money (and time) such repairs or renovations might cost. For example, in 2018, structural floor repairs cost an average of $15,137!
No matter how diligent you are while touring the house, getting a proper home inspection is absolutely crucial. Be sure to get your realtor’s advice on the best way to get a home inspection so that there aren’t hidden surprises down the line.
You know what they say — the top three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location. But that advice goes beyond just the zip code.
When house-hunting, pay attention to the houses that surround the home you’re touring. Are the surrounding homes clean and attractive? Are there a lot of “for sale” or “for rent” signs in the neighborhood? You want to move into a stable neighborhood, not one everyone else is trying to get out of.
A good location can be relative, too. Look for a home that’s close to your place of work and convenient shopping areas. If you have children, make sure it’s located within a good school district and away from major highways.
Sure, right now you might be buying a home while single — but what are your plans for ten years from now? Purchasing a home should always be a long-term investment, not a short-term solution.
As real estate experts with decades of experience, we recommend that you plan to stay in your home for at least 5-10 years. Consider factors like the number, size, and shape of bedrooms and bathrooms. Buy a house that can accommodate your future family, not one that you’ll grow out of in a year or two.
Of course, everyone’s priorities are different. Your real estate agent will be able to support you in making sure your own personal must-haves are met so you can find a home that’s well-located, within budget, in good shape, and right for your future.
Ready to start looking at homes?