Buying a home is a stressful time for even the most experienced hands. You'll hear a lot of advice from neighbors and experts alike during the process. Here's a list of 10 things you might not have thought of when it comes to purchasing a new home.
1. How long are you in for? Life moves fast these days. The world of living in the family home for 40+ years isn't a reality for everyone anymore... whether work or just the impulse to stay on the go compels you, make sure you have a realistic understanding of how long you will really want to stay in your home. An awareness of this ties into everything, from the cost to the location to the size of a home.
2. Buy within your means -This one would seem self-evident... except that people still tend to get in over their heads. A good template to take a look at is the Federal Housing Administration's guidelines for affordability. Even if you have a sizeable amount saved up for a deposit and won't need an FHA loan, their conservative ideas on how much you can afford could still be a big help.
3. Appearances can be deceiving - Homeowners put their best 'face' on when their homes are up for sale. A well-dressed room with a strategically placed flower vase or two can easily distract you from more serious issues at hand. Do the current owners have a really great couch and a 71-inch plasma? Well, you might not. Try to picture the home without all the bells and whistles and see if it still holds up.
4. You're allowed to ask questions - Many people are so intimidated by the home-buying process that they allow themselves to be led around by more 'experienced' hands. Remember, you're 'experienced' at living your own life... you know your needs and wants better than anyone. Do your research beforehand and don't be afraid to ask the questions that matter to you and your family.
5. Hire your own home inspector - The bank will of course demand a home inspection, but it's a good idea to hire your own, as well. Rather than just seeing if the home fits into a number on the loan, your own inspection can tell you things you never realized you needed to know about your home. An in-depth knowledge of your home will only help you in the long run.
6. If you're buying new, check out your builder - Never assume that because someone runs a large business and has built a huge development down the street that they are necessarily professional. You'd be amazed at how many builders are able to slip sub-par constructions by. Ask around. Investigate.
7. You're allowed to be picky - Buying a home isn't a situation in which you have to be polite at all times. You're betting your financial future and your well-being for years to come on this purchase. You're allowed to nitpick and assert yourself on issues that are important to you.
8. Buy the right homeowner's insurance - Live in a flood zone? Then why are you covered for earthquakes? Think about the real life scenarios that can take place in your geographical area and get prepared. General coverage purchased just to please the bank isn't going to cut it.
9. Deal with reality - When assessing your financial picture, be realistic. Take a look at your current financial situation... not the one you think you'll reach in a few years. Don't do the 'I'll get that promotion in May' routine and cross your fingers.
10. Your needs might not line up with everyone else's - You hear the same things again and again about home buying - Is it near good schools? What's the neighborhood like? Don't assume, however, that these are your needs. Maybe you aren't planning on having children, maybe you grew up in Manhattan and like noise... Make a decision based on your tastes and way of life and not the standard.