Aug 10, 2021

Home Buyer Check List - Needs & Wants

Before you start searching for a home to buy, it might be a good idea to sit down and actually write down your needs and wants before you start working with a real estate agent to actually view homes.  Couples need to be on the same page, which sometimes is not the case.  Argue it out before you start looking for homes.  If this is going to be your first home or your retirement home, needs and wants could be very different.  Most people will end up living in 3 or more homes during their lifetimes as personal needs change.  It is probably not a bad idea to buy a little more home than you need; but not a lot more home than you need right now because you will be paying for square footage, maintenance, utilities, property taxes etc. for a home that may be too big at this stage of your life. 

Whatever you buy always look at location.  If you buy crap, you will own crap.  And always remember, there are no bargains in real estate.  A home that sells for less than others in the neighborhood usually has some bad features related to location of the property and or the need for major repairs.  Don't buy on a busy street. Don't buy with high voltage wires in sight.  Don't buy too near commercial property.  Curb appeal matters.  If the home is an ugly architectural style, it will be harder to sell when you want to sell it.  And, schools matter so even if you don't have kids of school age; buy in an area with highly rated public schools.  You will pay more for the home; but you will get more when it comes time to sell the home years down the road.  

Specific to a fixer upper, just remember what you see on the surface may be much worse once the walls are opened up.  The odds are pretty good if you are buying an older home, it will require plumbing, electrical and maybe even some foundation work before you even get to the new kitchen or bathrooms.  Assume the cost will be much higher than you might think and that the renovation will take more time than originally promised.  

Buy enough bedrooms so that one can be used for a home office unless the home already comes with a den.  Today everybody wants "open concept", which is actually historically pretty funny because in the old days the kitchen was usually in the back of the house to be hidden from your guests.   Now when people have guests visiting, they often cook together as part of the entertainment for the evening.  

In any case, make a check of list of your must have's and nice to have's to provide the real estate agent.  Of course, budget is critical.  Fortunately, you can get pre qualified for a mortgage so you will know exactly what you can afford.  It is best if you can put at least 20% down to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance, which will add to your monthly house payment.  Buying a home can be both fun and stressful.  At Paragon, we work with couples to sell and buy homes all over the country.  We make it as stress free as possible because we provide counseling on all the issues that come up in the process.