It’s unlikely that you’ll ever spend more money on a single transaction than when you buy a house. If you’re moving, or you’re buying your first home, it’s important to choose the right property. Here are some hints to make sure you get the most important decision of your life right.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/106574022@N04/10489414535
Before you start looking
Before you start scanning websites for brochures or contacting agents, get your finances in order. It’s essential that you know how you much you have to put down, and how much you could borrow. Most people take out a mortgage to buy a home. The amount you can borrow will be subject to your income and the value of your deposit. There are various factors, which may affect your ability to take out a mortgage. These include a bad credit score, a poor financial track record or criminal convictions.
If you want to apply for a mortgage, do some research first. Find out what different providers and lenders can offer you. Work out which terms suit you best. Seek advice from financial experts. Arrange an appointment or call California mortgage advisors, for example. Always make sure you have a concrete offer in place before you arrange any viewings.
It’s always wise to work out your budget before you buy a house. Once you have some mortgage offers on the table, calculate what this means for your finances. Would your mortgage be more or less than the rent you currently pay? Can you afford to spend more to secure your dream home? Do you earn enough to cover your mortgage, bills, and additional living costs? Sit down with a pen and paper, or a spreadsheet, and work out exactly what’s going in and what’s coming out. When you have a solid budget in place, you can decide which offer is best and start your property search.
Searching for properties
It’s rare just to stumble across the home of your dreams when you’re driving by. This is possible, but most people find their new home through real estate agents. Perhaps the most important factor in your search is location. Where do you want to live? How big is your search area? Is there any flexibility? Once you’ve got an area pinned down, contact local agents. Look through their brochures and keep an eye on their websites. Keep in touch, so that you hear about new properties and developments as soon as possible. As well as contacting individual agents, you can also use specialist property websites to view homes for sale in specific areas. If you like the look of a property, you simply click on the details, and you’ll find contact information to book a viewing.
When it comes to location, you may need to compromise. If you’re desperate to live in a specific village or town, you may be waiting a long time for the right home to become available. If you’re not in a hurry, this may not be a problem. But if you’re keen to move or get on the property ladder sooner rather than later, you may have to change tact. Expanding your search area can give you a much wider range of options. It’s also worth bearing in mind that prices are likely to be higher in places where properties aren’t widely available.
If you’re flexible when it comes to location, think about practical matters when you’re looking for suitable options. How close do you want to be to work? If you have kids, are there good schools in the areas you’re considering? Are you near transport links.
Other factors that may influence your search include the age and style of the property, the outdoor space, and of course, the price. When you’re using online searches, set a budget. There’s little point in wasting time looking at fantasy homes that are way out of your financial league. Focus on homes that fit your criteria. You may have a vision of your perfect home, but don’t write everything else off. You may be surprised at what you actually like when you start looking around houses. You may have always wanted an old house packed with character and charm, but you might end up falling for a modern, spacious home. Keep an open mind, especially in the early stages.
What to look for when you view homes
Viewings enable you to have a good look around and think about whether properties tick the boxes and suit your lifestyle. You can get an idea of what a house looks like from a printed guide or website. But you don’t get a feel for it, and the dimensions can be deceptive. A house may look completely different in real life to the way it looks online. For most of us, a property also has to feel right. Sometimes, within seconds, you just know whether this is the right house for you or not. It’s always a good idea to use your instincts, but there are practical matters to consider too.
When you arrange a viewing, take your time to go around the house and look properly. Don’t just fly around the main rooms and then take a look at the garden from the back door. Go into every room, check out the size and think about how it would suit your family. Is there enough space? Are you happy with the layout?
It’s essential to look for warning signs when you’re searching for a new home. You don’t want to fall in love with a house to then find numerous issues flagged up in a survey. Look out for signs of damp, such as wet patches on the wall or an unpleasant smell. Keep an eye out for cracks in the walls or ceilings and damaged roof tiles.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/75491103@N00/4613680738
Arranging a second viewing
It’s impossible to take everything in the first time you visit a property. This is where second viewings come in handy. Arm yourself with a list of questions and queries. Sometimes, you’ll feel differently the second time you see a home. You may notice things you didn’t see last time, or you might find faults. If you saw the house on a lovely sunny day and you return in wind and rain, and you still love it, this is a good sign. If you don’t get that same positive feeling when you pull up outside, maybe it’s not the house for you.
There’s no limit to the number of times you can view a property before you decide whether or not to make an offer. If you feel like you need another nosey around, don’t be afraid to call the agent and ask. It’s essential that you’re certain about the decision you make. The only time you can’t afford to take your time is when the house has already attracted a lot of attention. In this case, when there are other parties interested, it may be wise to act quickly.
Image taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/106574022@N04/11415768965
Making an offer and getting the best price
If you decide you want to make an offer, think carefully about the figure you put forward. If you can, try and negotiate a saving on the asking price. Has the property been up for sale for a long time? Are the owners keen to sell quickly? If so, you could put in a lower offer. If it gets rejected, you can then increase it. If the property is under offer already and there are other people interested, it may be best to go in high. If your offer is accepted, ask your agent to contact the seller and take the house off the open market. Maintaining a good relationship with your agent will come in handy when you make an offer. They can give you an insight into the expected sale price and give you information about other offers on the table. They will also take charge of the negotiations for you.
Be prepared to be patient when you’re buying a house. The process can take time, and there may be a lot of waiting around.
A house is probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy. If you’re looking to move or buy your first home, don’t rush into anything. It’s easy to get carried away and start looking at properties before you’ve even worked out a budget. Try and make sure you have your finances in order first. Work out what you have available, and how much you can afford to borrow. Try to avoid overstretching yourself. You don’t want to be struggling at the end of every month. Plan your search, and don’t rule anything out just because it’s not your dream home on paper. Go and see some houses, and then make a decision. You’ll get a much better idea about what you’re looking for once you’ve seen a few different options. If you think you’ve fallen head over heels for a home, arrange a second viewing. If you feel the same, and it’s a winner for both your head and your heart, consider making an offer. Think carefully about the price you want to pay, and try and be patient.
Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/thespeakernews/24387071583