Life is filled to the brim with big decisions. Buying a home — especially if it’s your first — is one of the biggest ones there is — emotionally and financially.
Unless you’re buying a newly built home, the home you are considering buying could have had one or a whole string of previous owners before you came along. Luckily, if you know a few things in advance, you can avoid any nasty shocks before all is signed and sealed.
Here are six things you should know before shopping for a home to help keep your mind at ease and your best interests front and center.
- Know What You’re Looking For
It would be foolish to walk into a store without knowing what you came for, and it’s the same when it comes to buying a house. Real estate is a tricky market, so you’re going want to know what will make or break your budget. Before you start looking, have all your minimums and maximums written down from bedrooms to prices to how many repairs you’re willing to pay for yourself.
- Don’t Get Invested
You’ve done it. You’ve found the perfect house. But don’t dive in headfirst. Even with your dream home in your sights, you should never allow yourself to emotionally invest. This may only be your dream home thanks to the furniture the previous owners have yet to take with them, or maybe it’s because you don’t know the price yet. Take a step back and use the logical side of your brain before you let your emotions take over, which can cause you to make uninformed.
- Find a Good Realtor
Park benches and billboards often boast a realtor’s grandeur, but how good is your realtor really? She may be good in a big city but how well does she know the suburbs, or vice-versa? A good realtor who knows the area will be able to tell you about all the little things you can’t see and negotiate all the points you may have missed.
Make sure you don’t go with the first realtor you meet, either. Shopping around for the right realtor is as important as not buying the first house you see. If you choose the wrong one, you may encounter a lot of frustration — and you might even miss out on the perfect home to build your future in.
- Understand True Value
Any property may increase or decrease in value over time. Know what you’re getting yourself in for if you plan to sell your home some day in the future. Your realtor will understand this and help you avoid any unfortunate situations that may arise if you haven’t taken other fees into account after purchase price, but it’s best to be prepared. A seller and a bank are rarely flexible if you need to ask about adjusting the price because you didn’t understand the full value of the property when you started the process.
- Try to Time Your Move So It’s Optimal
When you decide to move, it often takes months due to the time it takes to shop around, negotiate and sign contracts, pack, move in, unpack and settle. If you can, try to time your move so it’s optimal. For example, according to Beacon Lake, which offers St. Johns county homes for sale, you should factor in school schedules if you have children, “Moving during the slow season can be less stressful. Especially if you have school-age children, moving during the summer months may be your best option, as your kids are out of school.”
- Don’t Skip Inspection
You may have great DIY skills, but you are likely not an expert. You will need any potential home you want to purchase inspected by a reputable home inspector. Make sure he belongs to an organization such as the American Society of Home Inspectors. Make sure the inspector is also someone that you trust and not just someone that is recommended to you by a real estate agent you’ve only just met — or a friend who bought a house ten years ago. A competent, trustworthy home inspector will take the time needed to do a thorough home inspection, and possibly save you hundreds or thousands of dollars by identifying issues that need to be addressed before you buy the home.