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Buying a house is more than the number of rooms and how it is staged. It’s a set of complex systems in a specific location. And while it’s not all about location, that’s a perfect place to start your list.
Where to Buy
Areas and neighborhoods trend for a variety of reasons. If you’re new to a city, consider renting for six to twelve months. That way, you can investigate all the neighborhoods to determine which one is right for you. For example, if you plan to have children, the hot market near the city center might not be best for you. Instead, you’ll want a home in a neighborhood with excellent schools, playgrounds, access to nearby shopping and family-friendly entertainment.
When to Buy
Once you know where you want to live, engage your real estate agent in helping determine when the best timing is. If you can afford to wait until fall or winter because prices often drop, then do so. Or, if you need to get in ahead of the “between school sessions” rush, get your offer in just after Super Bowl Sunday or before Spring Break.
What to Buy
This advice must adjust to your needs, of course, but buy what fits into your budget. Overbuying causes problems down the road when a repair completely busts your budget, and you end up with extensive problems. But don’t buy less than you’ll be happy with either. You need a home that meets your needs for years to come.
How to Buy
Lastly, don’t buy sight unseen or home uninspected. Purchasing a home without really looking at it or requiring a complete, professional, certified inspection can set you up for homeownership failure. Your agent can suggest an inspector to you, or you can hire one from a list of professionals. Pay attention to the notes and suggestions on the inspection and require corrections to any major systems. If you do purchase the home without adding that clause, set aside funds to repair or replace the offending appliance, pipes, wiring or structural issue before it becomes a major headache.
Don’t rely on a seller’s agent to handle the deal. Their responsibility is to the seller, and they are obligated to sell the home for the highest price with the fewest changes, upgrades or repairs required. A buyer’s agent, conversely, advocates for you, the buyer. That means they have your best interest in mind in negotiations, offers and the final outcome. If you’re hunting for a home, engage a buyer’s agent and let them do the heavy lifting for you.