STEP SIX: STAYING FOCUSED ON FINDING THE RIGHT HOME
When you are in the process of finding a home, there are two primary characteristics of a successful house-hunting experience – staying focused on exactly what you want and exposing yourself to the maximum number of suitable properties. Your agent can help you find suitable properties, but it’s up to you to remain calm and keep your wants and needs in mind.
- Work with Your Real Estate Agent
Your agent should compile a selection of properties that match your general search criteria and arrange for viewings. But you can also reap additional benefits from your relationship with a well-chosen realtor.
- Look Around Yourself
Your agent will find most of the available homes in the area, but you can help in the search. Check the weekly real estate ads in the local paper, search for homes on the internet, and drive around any neighborhoods you find attractive looking for signs or open houses. Your agent can arrange a showing of any interesting properties.
- Get the Info You Need
Make the most of your home shopping time. Remember to bring your wish list. Don’t forget to ask questions during showings – get all the information you’ll want later when you’re considering each property. Review our Home Evaluation Checklist for a summary of what you’ll need to ask.
Home Evaluation Checklist
While much of what makes a home the right choice is vague and difficult to quantify, there are a number of objective considerations as well. Review the following items to help determine if a house is right for you.
- Review the exterior condition
Check the roof and siding for signs of excessive wear. Is the paint peeling or chipping? Inspect the windows and doors – are they in good condition? Check the foundation for cracks.
- Check out the lot layout and condition
Is the lot large enough? Is it level and well landscaped? Check the area around the foundation – is the ground sloped away from the house to allow for proper drainage? Does water pool anywhere near the house?
- Inspect the basement
Is the basement dry and free of mildew? Check the basement walls – are they free of cracks and other damage? Is the ceiling high enough to allow you to finish the basement in the future?
- Rate the kitchen
Is the kitchen large enough for your family? Are the cabinets and fixtures attractive and in good condition or are they dated and worn? Is there enough storage space? Is there a laundry room.
- Consider the bedrooms and bathrooms
Are there enough bedrooms in the house? Are they large enough for your needs? Does the house have a sufficient number of bathrooms? Are the bathroom fixtures and vanities modern and in good condition?
- Think about room sizes and layout
Does the home have all of the rooms you want – living room, dining room, family room, study, or library? Are the rooms large enough? Does the house have a nice layout that allows for good traffic flow?
- Check out the mechanicals
Are the heating, plumbing, and electrical systems up-to-date and in good condition? How old are the furnace, hot water heater, and air-conditioning units (if the home has central air)?
- Review the interior finishes
Check out the flooring, interior paint, and wallpaper – are they in good shape or are they old and dingy? Does the home have built-in shelving or other special trim?
- Consider the items on your wish list
Does the home have the features that you have identified as important — fireplace(s), two or three-car garage, room for expansion, etc.?
- Check Out New Housing Projects
Don’t forget to check out new housing developments in the area. New homes offer many advantages, including warranties, customization, and modern features. You can get a good idea of the new housing projects in your area from your agent or through ads in the local newspapers.
- Should You Consider Building?
Building a new house is stressful and time-consuming, but the reward can be considerable – the chance to have a home that is custom-designed to suit your family’s needs. Your agent can help you find a lot (and probably a builder as well).