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The Top Ten Things to Look for When House Hunting

by Desi Sowers

House hunting can be overwhelming sometimes, especially when beginning the search for your first home.  Chances are you might get caught up in the process and important details might slip by you. While the number of rooms, condition of the kitchen, and size of the yard are important, there are other things to consider before you make an offer.  This list of things to look for can help get your search off to the right start.

 

  1.      Location, Location, Location
    They say that the 3 most important things to look for when buying a home are location, location and location.  While a home might not be perfect, loving your neighborhood and neighbors can make all the difference in living with imperfection.  And face it…you can change almost anything about your house, but you can’t change its location or the people living nearby.  When you go house hunting, make sure to consider the home’s proximity to your work, the appeal of the neighborhood, when in the neighborhood the home is situated, ease of access, noise from neighbors, traffic, pets and access to parks, shopping, schools and public transportation.

 

  1.      Home Placement
    Beyond location, look at how the home is situated.  If the home is on a hill does it have a view, a walkout basement, or lots of stairs to climb? Do neighbors' windows look directly into the home? Is the yard suitable for kids, pets, gardening, or other uses? Is their safe access to the home? These are all important questions to ask yourself when determining if it is the right property for you.

 

  1.      Check Out the Neighborhood
    While it’s important for your house to meet your expectations, it’s equally important that the neighborhood meets them too. Take a drive around the development you are interested in on week days and weekends, during the day and in the evening.  Are the homes in good repair? Are yards kept clean and tidy?  Is the neighborhood safe enough for people to walk, run or bike?  Are there children playing outdoors?

 

  1.       Consider a Home’s Curb Appeal
    You want a home that is going to reflect your lifestyle. Do you live a    casual, laid-back life? Then you probably won’t want a formal Victorian or Tudor style home.  A simple, contemporary home might better suit you.  Pay close attention to exterior features.  Think about maintenance.  For example, a brick home is easier to maintain than one with siding.  Do you like working in the yard?  If not, you might not want a house with extensive landscaping.  Is the roof in good condition?  Attention to detail will help you choose the home with the best curb appeal for you.

 

  1.       Size and Floor Plan
    You may be thinking about buying your dream home. But is your dream home practical?  Do you actually need 4 bedrooms and 4 baths when you live alone? A spacious home may provide  the extra room you've always wanted for a home office or a theater room, but you'll pay higher heating bills and have higher taxes. Additionally, it will take more furniture to furnish and money to decorate. Think about how the new home space will be used and whether it will fit your lifestyle now and in the future.

 

  1.        Bedrooms and Bathrooms
    Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you will need and only    look at homes that meet that criteria.  You don’t want to fall in love with what is otherwise a perfect house if it doesn’t provide the space needed for your family.  It’s smart to consider counting an extra bedroom in that number so that you have extra space for a home office or guest room. If you think you might add on to the home later, make sure you consult an architect who can advise you on space planning and regulations.

 

  1.         The Kitchen
    For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Don’t settle for a home with a kitchen that doesn’t work for you.  Yes, you can remodel later, but at great expense.  If it’s an easy fix like replacing cabinets or countertops, get a price quote before committing the house so that you will know if it is within your budget to take that on.

 

  1.          Closets and Storage
    Older homes often have small closets and lack storage space.  As you’re looking at a home ask yourself where you will store your belongings.  Tiny closets don’t have to be a deal breaker.  There are ways to maximize storage without renovations. Newer homes tend to have lots of storage and you may sacrifice living space while having more closet space than you actually need.

 

  1.          Windows and Lighting
    While looking at a home keep in mind your preferences regarding light and privacy.  Do you want a lot of windows to provider bright, sunny rooms?  Pay attention to the locations of electrical outlets and fixtures to make sure they will meet your lighting needs. 

 

  1.            Finishing Touches
    Even a simple home can look spectacular with the right moldings, hardware, and a fireplace.  If elements like these are important to you, look for them while house hunting. 

 

You may not find everything you want in one house, but keep this list handy and you are more likely to find the home that best suits your needs and desires.  Happy House Hunting!

If you are interested in buying a New River Valley home, contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328, and discover the difference she can make during your family's move. 

 

Torn Between Two Houses?

by Desi Sowers, REALTOR, ABR, GRI

As you find yourself heavily immersed in the house-hunting mode, you may encounter a situation in which you're torn between two houses. Perhaps you and your spouse each have a favorite, or perhaps you both like two houses equally - or think you do.

Making a final decision and determining which house to make an offer on shouldn't be taken lightly. The decision should be made rationally and not guided by emotion.

Of course, you may not have the luxury of taking your time on deciding which house you'd like to pursue. You may be in a market in which homes in your price range get snatched up as quickly as they go on the market, perhaps even attracting multiple offers.

But in some situations, you may find yourself torn between two houses. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is take pen to paper and outline your family's needs, your budget, and the pros and cons of each house.

Some things you'll want to compare include:

 

  • The neighborhoods. If the two final contenders are in different neighborhoods, evaluate the pros and cons. If you have kids and being close to a park is important, you'll want to consider that. How close are shopping, restaurants, church, and other services? Are the streets maintained? Do homeowners landscape and maintain their homes nicely? How long will your commute to work be?

     

  • The schools. If you have school-aged children, you definitely want to consider the reputation of the neighborhood schools. You can usually find general district information and state standardized test results online. But once you're this deep in the process, you'll want to visit the schools and receive the information first-hand from school officials. You should also talk to teachers and parents.

     

  • Crime. Go to the local police or sheriff department and ask about crime in your specific neighborhood. You might find theft or vandalism to be more prevalent in one area than another.

     

  • The houses compared to others in the neighborhood. While it may boost your self-esteem to have the biggest house on the block, it's typically a better idea to stay away from purchasing the neighborhood monster. When it comes time to sell you'll find that the lower value of your neighbors' homes will shrink your home's value.

     

  • Appreciation. If the two homes you're eyeing are in different parts of town or different neighborhoods, ask your REALTOR® to retrieve sales of homes in those neighborhoods over the past few years. If one neighborhood shows an annual average 8 percent increase and another is skyrocketing at 15 percent, you may have your decision made.

     

  • The sellers' situations. If you don't know already, ask your Realtor how long each home has been on the market. Usually the longer a house has been listed, the better chance the seller will accept an offer lower than asking price. Conversely, if the house has been on the market for just a couple days, the sellers will probably wait for a better offer if you offer less than the listed price. Your real estate agent might also be able to dig up additional information about the sellers, like why they're selling. If it's a job-related move or a divorce, the sellers likely want to move as quickly as possible, meaning you have a better shot at them accepting a lower price.

     

  • The houses themselves. If you haven't already, you should make a list of the amenities and attributes you want your house to have. If you want that first-floor home office, a large, open back yard for the kids, or a gourmet kitchen, be sure to include that on your list. Then, rate how each house measures up to each need on your list.

     

  • Drawbacks. Likewise, make a list of the cons associated with each house and determine how much of a negative impact each will have.

    As you carefully weigh all the factors, it might become clear that one house is more enticing than the other. Or, you may find the houses are still equally appealing. If that is the case, be sure you look at the homes more than once. You may notice something you didn't the first time around - something that could sway you one way or the other.


    Written by Michele Dawson

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