Does the house have what you want? If you are compromising on things like storage, closets might be built, or furniture could remedy some of that -- but building a garage, or adding an attic or basement might not be possible or practical. Look at the house with a critical eye, seeing how it matches with what you are really wanting to buy. The fewer compromises you make, the happier you will be long-term.
Upkeep and Maintenance: Notice elements of the home or property that require work to maintain. Pay attention to things like decks, countertops, bathtub surrounds, floors, fencing, landscaping and other areas where there might be work to do seasonally. Are you prepared to do that yourself, or will you hire this work out? Does the climate affect materials in such a way that decks or fences will need to be stained or replaced more frequently? Can you keep up with all the grout involved in that fancy tile work? If a property requires more work, attention, or money for upkeep than you can afford, perhaps the good deal is just not a good fit for you.
Community: Remember, when you buy a property you are buying into a community. What is the climate of the neighborhood? Are there issues to cause you personal concern? Evaluate the people who live in the area. Are there a lot of rentals, or do people own their own homes? How are the schools and local stores? Do you feel comfortable walking the streets, driving around, parking your car? What are the social opportunities and would you partake in them? Are you a person of faith or do you have strong political leanings? Buying into a neighborhood can call all of these questions into the forefront. Getting to know the tenor of the community and neighborhood can aid you in determining if there are issues to consider, especially if you are home a lot. Driving or walking around the neighborhood at different times of day and on the weekends might give you a better idea of the people in the area. A perfect home can be an island in a stormy sea if you don't feel good in the area.
Going For It
Your hard work in considering all the above is just part of the due diligence when buying a home. Answering honestly will pay off in all sorts of ways. You will go in to your new home with open eyes and hopefully a good deal -- just make sure it is good.
Yes it is a Good Deal but is it a Good Deal for YOU? It can often be challenging to look at the big picture and remove the emotion of making a decision about which home to purchase, we have been looking at the whole picture in part one and two.
Know Thyself: The Key To Knowing A "Good Deal"
Understand how you deal with stress. If you can't handle the stress of a remodel or complicated/lengthy transactions, getting a house that is in foreclosure or requires extensive work might not be such a good deal. Permits require understanding codes or hiring contractors who do -- but ultimately the homeowner is responsible if there is a permitting issue. Moving itself is stressful, so consider when your "good deal" brings any extra stresses with it. Some people thrive on getting a good deal and doing home projects, so they have extra energy to deal with such things. Know if this is you.
Personal Style -- You always dreamed of a cozy urban oasis, but you are about to settle for a suburban family home. Are you really ready for lawn-care 101? Have you compromised your personal style for a price tag? Allow yourself to really feel good about who you are and what you want. Compromising your personal style is probably not something that you can put a price on.
Health issues -- You have seasonal affective disorder, and light makes all the difference. Who needs a southern exposure and big windows -- that's what those fancy light fixtures are for, right? Determine if making the house suitable for your needs will require extensive remodeling or big work-arounds. If you are compromising on issues that affect your health, do so carefully. If mobility is an issue, doorways and bathrooms could need to accommodate wheelchairs... and what about stairs? Homes in wet areas can have mold issues, which can be expensive to deal with. Be realistic and conservative with any home issues that could affect your health.
Work -- Are you or someone living in the home planning to commute to a job? Is the building/property/neighborhood suitable to working from home? Location is one aspect of this question, but proper light, heat, sound-proofing or other issues may make work related issues a bigger deal than you first imagine. Consider the availability of communications like phone, internet, and other essentials if you plan to work from the property. If clients come to your home office, will you need a separate entrance or more parking? Again, understand the local regulations for running a business from your home in any situation where you are considering doing so.
In the last post we began exploring a Good Deal and if it is really a Good Deal For You . . . and now we continue that topic.
When The Price Is Not The Price
A large home with poor insulation, an aging furnace or heating/cooling system, older windows, roof in need of repair or other "big ticket" needs can quickly affect your budget after you buy. Have an expert evaluate features like pools and hot tubs, as these attractive perks might not be in good repair or cost more than you expect to operate and maintain. And remember: pools need to have adequate fencing and safety features. If you need to add them, it could be expensive.
Smaller homes might require that you rent office or storage space off site -- also affecting your budget. And don't forget property taxes, homeowner's or condo fees -- these are annual expenses that must be considered. Don't forget to look at driveways and sidewalks, if you are responsible for these. Often overlooked, replacing or repairing sidewalks that present liability issues might be a pricey fix.
Issues around location can also lead to hidden costs. Longer commutes, poor or inadequate parking, security systems for homes and cars, or costs to keep the home at the level of the neighborhood can add to your expenses. If you plan to work from home, or have clients into your home office, be certain that your business is welcome in the neighborhood.
Some cities or communities have strict regulations about running a business from your home. If you cannot use your property in the way you want or need to, then it might not be good for you.
You have been looking and hunting for that "deal" in this buyer's market -- and you think you've found it -- but have you? Understanding what constitutes a Good Deal may be more personal than you think. The thrill of the search and looking at real estate can put your head in a spin and your heart may become attached to a certain home. However, when you get to the point of putting in an offer, step back and make sure you have a clear mind about the property -- not just the price.
Price Is Not Everything
While the price of the home may be attractive, it isn't cheating to ask why it is so low. Is the home in need of repair? Are there permits required to make those repairs? How extensive are they? Can you live in the dwelling while those repairs happen? Are you capable of doing the repairs yourself, or will you hire someone to accomplish the tasks? Do you have the constitution to deal with the repairs -- are you able to make decisions, do the research, hire the right people, and have the tools/time you need?
While price may be a driving factor, in real estate it is often location. Did you find a good price but in a location that you are compromising? If so, this is one factor you cannot change. Think hard if you are compromising on this one. Commuting a long distance takes time and gas, which can be figured as dollars, making that low price not so low.
Look at features of the home, landscape, location or neighborhood that make it uniquely suited for you, or that affect the price. Understand these before you buy. Even if you never plan to have children attend the local schools, you still might want to know about the schools in your area - it is part of the entire profile of the property you are buying. Look at hospitals, bus routes and other aspects of civil services in the area, too. Some people want to be close to everything, some prefer to be off the main flow - but most importantly: does the profile of this property feel right for you?
We will continue this thread over the next several posts, so be sure to check back.