Choosing a Home
Budget in place? Check. Pre-approval? Check. Time for home shopping. We recommend you get in touch with a reputable real estate agent who can guide you through the home buying process by giving you the most accurate listing prices and opening doors - literally. A great agent also knows the local housing market like the back of their hand; leave it to a professional to negotiate the final sale.
Keep the following in mind to shop savvy:
Is the town on a downward financial slope, or on the rise? A fiscally sound city is likely to have lower real estate tax requirements, and could point to your home's value appreciating with time.
Homeowners Association (HOA)
If you're moving into a neighborhood or condominium complex with an HOA, ask about their requirements. You could be looking at paying flood insurance, pool and green belt maintenance, and other fees which can range from $20 - $400 per month or more, depending on your area. HOAs can be very strict and fine you for having an umbrella on your patio or an extra car in your driveway, so make sure the HOA pros outweigh the cons.
A house built in the '50s can be charming, and often older neighborhoods don't come with strict HOAs; they do come with older floors, pipes, and older kitchens. You'll need to decide if your budget can accommodate probable future renovations, or ask if the home comes with new or original parts.
Run the faucets, taste the water - taste will tell you something about the quality of both your municipal water district and plumbing. Flush the toilets to see if they're in working order. Lift the carpeting to reveal the quality and material of what's underneath. Open and close windows and doors to gauge the age of panes and hinges. Anything worth mentioning should be in the seller's Sales Disclosure, a document that details existing issues, but don't hesitate to conduct your own inspection.
Avoid buyer's remorse by visiting your desired neighborhoods after work or on the weekends. You'll be able to assess noise level, average age, family size and more.