(This post is part of our Free First Time HomeBuyers’ course. For more information and/or to sign up, click on this link, or select ‘Education’ under the ‘Buy’ drop-down menu above.)
Sure, finding the perfect home is really a simple process on paper. But as you can imagine, it’s a lot harder in real life. Your agent’s job is to find the point at which your budget intersects with your needs and wants perfectly. It’s really an art- because too much of one side can end up with you spending more than you can handle or wishing you wouldn’t have settled (though I’d rather have this problem than the former).
With your realtor, sit down and write a list of your ideal home features as well as the deal breakers.
· Is your budget flexible or fixed?
· What kind of heating/air-conditioning system would you like?
· Is it important that the home be move-in ready? Or are you okay with putting in a little elbow grease?
· Is energy efficiency important to you?
· Do you want a pool?
· How many rooms do you need? How many do you want?
· Do you want a formal dining room?
· How many cars are you going to need to store?
· Are there bedrooms downstairs that you’ll need? Do you need a one-story or two-story home?
· Do you have a preference in the architectural design of the home?
Here at NextHome Element Realty, we like to have everyone we work with start off with a few questions. We would love for you to answer these questions, and bring them when you come in to meet an Element Realty agent! (Click on the documents above and below to open up a PDF that you can print, or you can copy and paste it into Word to type up your answers).
Having those things written down is important- give a copy to your agent and keep one for yourself. This way, you can edit it as you search and discover new deal-breakers and wants- it makes the process significantly easier for your real estate agent, too. It helps them to find you more options that are worth your time.
You then need to consider which neighborhoods work for you- your agent will offer suggestions and give you their input, but there are a few things to think about when considering neighborhoods:
- Do you have kids or are you planning on having kids? All parents know to consider the school systems in that area before moving- but if you don’t have kids yet, it might be something you’ll want to consider for when you do. Do you want to live with a younger crowd? Or a quieter, older crowd?
- What kind of home do you want? There are a lot more options than you’d think. Do you want a townhouse? Single family residence? Condominium?
- How far is the commute? Don’t just think about right now- are you going to be working in the same place in 7 years? Can you handle having a commute? (This is LA after all).
- Is anything here in my price range? If not, areas nearby might have more options. If so, where on the spectrum of real estate in this community do you fall?
- Do you want a historic neighborhood? In some areas, this is an added bonus. In LA, our history doesn’t go back too far, but we still have options. Is that an important thing to you?
- What do you wish your current community had? Often, looking at what you don’t want is a good way to find out what you want.
- Is it important that things be walking distance? I mean, hey, good for you for reducing your carbon footprint.
- What’s the crime rate? Even if you don’t have kids, you’ll probably want to know. Look up the registered sex offenders in the area, too.
- What’s visitor parking like? Is there enough room for guests to park? Or are they going to have to walk a mile with their bags?
- What’s it like at different times of day? I don’t usually condone hanging around a neighborhood in your car at various times throughout the day. But, some neighborhoods are completely different at night- so make sure you feel it out (just act casual).
Now, it’s time to put it all together. Your real estate agent will help you curate a list of options- some people like to space it out so they have an appointment to view a new house every day, some people like to take an entire day on the weekend to see all the houses at once. Depending on your realtor’s availability, you can do either. Be patient with it. Keep in mind that the average homebuyer has to look for twelve weeks before selecting a property. Appointments are usually private walkthroughs with your agent- but open houses have an etiquette of their own.
Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts for open house etiquette.
Let your NextHome Element Realty agent set some up- call (818) 237-9426