Factors to Consider When Buying a House

Factors to Consider When Buying a House {Checklist}

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So you wanna buy a house, but you have no idea where to start? Many people think it’s simply a matter of getting approved for a mortgage and finding a house you love. It’s so much more complicated and involved than that. There are several factors to consider when buying a house. If you’re in the market (or the researching phase), download this post for later so you can talk it over with your spouse, a trusted family member, or a friend.

8 Factors to Consider When Buying a House

Factors to Consider When Buying a House

1. Are you in a Position to Buy Right Now?

So many people rush into buying a house in the midst of major life changes, and that can be a huge mistake. For example, if you’re newlyweds or expecting your first baby, you might want to hold off and let the dust settle before making a major move.
  Oftentimes, someone will receive a promotion, and along with a pay raise, they decide to “upgrade” their home, car, etc. Take a minute to assess your life goals and adjust your withholdings as well as retirement contributions and savings before deciding to splurge. By setting a personal budget, you can see exactly how much of a house you can afford. Here’s a video that explains debt to income ratio. There are maximum ratios for different types of home loans. Decide which type of mortgage works for you, and then call a lender for a pre-approval.
You can check your credit score for free once a year through Annual Credit Report. See where you stand before you even speak to a Realtor or Mortgage Lender.

2. Location, Location, Location

Three things affect the value of a home more than anything else: price, condition, and location location location. Resaleability is going to be a factor (even if you think this will be your forever home). As a Realtor®, I can’t tell you how many people have told me, “This is our forever home. This is it! We’ll be here through retirement”. Yet they contact me to resell in two years because they found a ranch style home that will better suit their needs. You need to make sure the home you’re buying is priced right, in good condition (or priced according to condition), and is in a GREAT location.

3. Schools

I refer clients to GreatSchools.org to research schools. That being said, as a Mom, I can tell you that test scores aren’t everything. Graduation rates are important, and turnover rate of administration and teachers, student to teacher ratio, and other things that require a little bit of digging are very important. But you’ll have to do some homework. I highly suggest joining some of the local Facebook groups in the areas you’re considering moving to. Then you can ask the residents for their honest opinion. You can also search for previous topics of discussion (such as how many times bomb threats have caused evacuations at your school). Every community has a Facebook page at this point. Just perform a simple search and you’ll likely find what you’re looking for.

4. Utility Companies – Cost and Quality

Sometimes, different utility companies service your neighbors. You need to find out which companies service the areas you’re considering moving to. If you find a home you’re interested in, your Realtor can get a copy of the last 12 months’ average utility costs. More importantly, how is the water quality? In my community, many people have city water, which causes black sludge in their pipes and toilets (despite bleaching and filtering, etc). There is nothing that can really be done to remedy the situation. Luckily, I live in the country and have a different water provider. But this is a major problem for many people, and it can be a turnoff to potential buyers if the only choice is the local water company.

5. Accessibility

Do you require handicap accessibility? Can the home be modified from its current condition to accommodate your needs? Also important to note is how easy can the neighborhood/home be accessed from the street? If a home is located on a busy street, is it going to be difficult to make a left turn against oncoming traffic during rush hour? These are important factors to consider when buying a house, but they’re often overlooked.

6. Layout

Open concept living spaces are the new normal. Many ranch style homes have been renovated to accommodate such requests, but in some cases, knocking out walls is impossible due to the center walls being load bearing. If you aren’t totally in love with a particular layout and want to renovate in the future, take a contractor with you to view the home before you place an offer.  That way, if it can’t be done, you can move on to a home that will meet your requirements. open floor plan

7. Far Enough/Close Enough From the Family

How close do you want to live to your in-laws? I have friends whose family all lives on the same block, and it’s like their own little commune! They love it! Personally, I need my space, so be sure to have a conversation about how close/far you wish to be to your parents, siblings, etc…especially if Grandma will be watching the kids. The commute could be disastrous, and if you haven’t mapped it out, you might end up selling to move closer to the family before you know it. But if you’re like me and like your privacy, make sure you’re buying with a safe distance. 😉

8. Hire a Realtor®

Ok, I know I’m biased because I am a licensed Realtor®, but hear me out. If you’re buying a house that’s FSBO, or For Sale by Owner, you can likely save yourself (and the seller) a few thousand bucks by hiring an attorney to draw up the paperwork for you.  Note: I am not recommending that. But if you’re savvy and “know a guy” (namely an attorney), you can do it. But if you’re looking at homes listed with real estate brokerages, do yourself a favor and hire a reputable Realtor®. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t exist to just let you in and out of the properties you’re interested in and then collect a check. They obtain inspection reports, write offers and counter-offers, communicate with the sellers’ agent, and coordinate all of your inspections, walkthroughs, communicate with your lender, and set up the closing. A good Realtor® is worth her weight in GOLD! And as the buyer, in most cases, you don’t have to pay for a Realtor®’s services. Usually, the seller pays the commission and splits it between the seller’s agent and the listing agent. Question: What happens if you want to buy a house that’s listed with an agent, but you don’t take a Realtor® with you? The seller’s agent works for the seller. So, unless they get you to sign a buyer brokerage agreement, you have no representation. And if they do get you to sign a buyer broker agreement, they’re representing both sides, and that’s just a sticky situation. If you need a recommendation to a Realtor®, I’d be happy to refer you to someone in your area at no cost to you! These 8 factors to consider when buying a house just barely scratch the surface.
There’s no such thing as too much research when it comes to the biggest, most expensive purchase of your life. Due diligence is critical when it comes to buying a house.
Don’t forget to download a copy of this checklist for future reference! Just enter your email below, and I’ll send it right over!    

3 thoughts on “Factors to Consider When Buying a House {Checklist}”

  1. I appreciate the advice about getting last year’s utility costs on the house. My wife and I are trying to find our first home to buy and I’m worried about going over the budget we set. We’ll have to talk to our Realtor and see how the market is like this summer.

  2. Thanks for stressing out location as one important factor in buying a house, because it is what I’ve been talking to my husband about. If you’re purchasing or constructing a house, location is an important matter to consider. Besides local amenities such as restaurants, grocery stores, and entertainment areas, there are some other factors to consider when looking for a great location to buy a house. In addition to the ones already mentioned I would also consider hospitals, schools, and whether it is near public transportation.

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