Whether you're buying (or building) your first home, searching for the perfect mountain getaway for vacations, or looking to purchase a home perfect for your golden years, homebuying can be a stressful (and exciting!) experience. It can be easy to just go with the first home that seems right, only to find some significant problems were overlooked.
It's important to be sure it really is the perfect place for you and your family! Today, we have eight essential things to keep in mind when you're thinking about buying a home.
1. Keep an eye on the future. A house that seems delightfully cozy now may feel uncomfortably small after you bring a child or two into your family. On the other hand, a very large house may feel just a bit roomy when you have teenagers but be too much space once those teens have headed off to college or moved out on their own. We tell our community members to look for a home that isn't just good for right now, but also for five or ten years into the future.
If you're couple thinking about children, you'll want to research school districts before you buy. Looking ahead to retirement? Check out how close local grocery stores are and if the neighborhood is easily walkable or has amenities to help you get to know the neighbors. Keeping the future in mind can help keep you from having serious regrets later on.
2. Make a list of expenses. All of the expenses. While you'll definitely want an idea in mind for how much you're willing to spend on the home itself and what that will mean for your taxes, there are also expenditures you need to keep in mind. Will your commute take up a significant part of your day and lead to a higher costs for fuel? If the house is large, what will that mean for your heating bills in the winter or your A/C in the summer? What are the average overall utility costs?
Add in these estimated expenses to your overall total you're willing to spend before you ever take that first step towards buying.
3. Be wary of "buying the view". If you purchase a home specifically for its spectacular view, you'll need to make sure to speak with the neighborhood developer about any possible further development plans.
While we here at Vista build our communities with the natural landscape of Western North Carolina in mind, it's not uncommon for developers to build a neighborhood with tremendously beautiful views, sell those homes, and then build a new development right next door that, you guessed it... blocks the view.
If natural landscape views are important to you, be sure to work with a develper who understands.
4. Write down a list of essentials, wants, and 'it would be nice if' items. There are essentials everyone needs for their home, and each homeowner will have a slightly different list. One person may priortize hardwood floors in every room, while another wants carpeting in the bedrooms to keep things a little warmer when it gets cold.
If you're buying a home with your spouse or partner, sit down together and each of you make a separate list. Once you're done, discuss and compare what items are most important to you. Pare down the lists until everything has been put into one of three categories: essentials that make-or-break your decision to buy, things you want but don't need (like an island in the kitchen), and the things that would just be nice to have but won't change your mind (a stainless steel fridge, for instance).
5. Look at your HOA contract before making a decision. Some homebuyers refuse to be part of an HOA, but they are increasingly common and can provide serious value to homeowners. Many HOA-run neighborhoods maintain community pools, tennis courts, community buildings (for parties or other gatherings) and other kinds of value, and homehowners can rest assured that the HOA will ensure their neighborhood is kept up and taken care of.
Ask for a copy of the HOA contract while you're still shopping around, and make sure you go through each line. You don't want to buy a home in an HOA-run neighborhood only to discover rules you're unwilling or unable to follow later on.
If you aren't sure if you'll be able to work with a particular HOA's rules, it's probably best not to pursue a home in that neighborhood.
6. Have you real estage agent or mortgage broker walk you through the sale... before it happens. Your mortgage broker or real estate agent should be happy to take you through the individual points in your mortgage contract. It's essential that you feel comfortable with every aspect of the contract, since it is a binding legal agreement and could conceivably be in place for up to 30 years.
The mortgage agreement should contain absolutely no surprises.
If your broker or agent hesitates or outright refuses to sit down with you to go over it point-by-point, walk away and hire a different agent. Open communication should be the foundation of any home-buying experience.
7. Don't fall for staging. Both individuals and companies that sell homes often invest significant funding in 'staging' the home — hiring someone to decorate each room to make it optimally appealing.
When you visit a home you're interested in, look beyond the staged setup to the details. Just because there's a gorgeous side table with a beautiful lamp on it doesn't mean there's actually an outlet to plug that lamp into. Look over all the details to be sure this home will actually work with your life.
8. Finally — trust your instincts. Even if a home has everything you want, is in a good neighborhood, and you've done your research... if your instincts tell you something's off, it's probably a good idea to listen to them.
Maybe you're concerned in a newly-developed area that the developer won't answer you on specific timelines or dates that things will be finished. Maybe you noticed the backyard of this perfect home slopes and seems like it would flood when it rains. Maybe there's a crack in the ceiling of the living room that the seller doesn't acknowledge or won't explain. If your gut tells you something is wrong, listen to it. There are plenty of houses for sale, and you deserve the right house for you.
Looking for the Perfect Home in Western North Carolina? Call Vista.
At Vista, we truly fell in love with the beautiful landscapes of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina, and we dedicated ourselves to building long-lasting communities that let our residents truly enjoy living in this uniquely beautiful location. Take a look at our communities to see if any of them work for you, or come by for a visit! Just give a call at (866) 519-2400 or contact us online at any time to learn more today.