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*This is the fourth part in the series, You Too Can Buy a House, click here for parts 1-3.
Of course, having a good list of what you really want and/or need in a house is great to have. That list alone will help you quickly eliminate houses that won’t be suitable for your family and/or lifestyle. For instance, we knew we wanted to have yard space for play and gardening. We also wanted at least 3 bedrooms, but enough space for us all to not feel cramped and on top of one another, even if in the same room.
Even though you create a list of your wants/needs, it’s also a good idea to be sure you know what you’re absolute no’s and your compromises might be. This helps you to talk in depth about houses you see or even view with your agent. Again, for us, this meant we wouldn’t be living in a space that was too new.
We don’t like the idea of those homes and the windows were usually an issue for us. Also, we knew we could compromise on a smaller kitchen, if there was room for renovation at some point. We didn’t necessarily want to live in a neighborhood in the city, but we did want quiet. So, a quiet neighborhood in a city was an acceptable compromise!
I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s important enough to mention again.
Know your Real budget.
The budget that involves your general livelihood, food, and any other household bills or expenses. You don’t want to look at and fall in love with a house that squeezes your budget too much. That just adds extra pressure and stress, thereby taking away from your enjoyment of being in your new space and home. And, despite the fact that sometimes people don’t want to mention this, know what your options are in terms of your budget as well.
Now, some real tips to discuss.
Tips on What to avoid & Common Trouble spots:
crooked and/or very leaky/drafty windows
big roof issues
wet basements or wet crawlspaces
exposed electrical wires
missing furnace and/or heating/cooling units (if the house had one)
evidence of leaks or other roof/ceiling damage
sagging or uneven porches
evidence of issues with the plumbing (inadequate drainage)
And finally, there are apps or websites, as well as tried and true ways to look for the house that will fit you and your family’s wants/needs:
- access to local real estate listings (should get this through your agent)
- driving around, newspaper or home for sale magazines, open house events
These are all free and should be readily available. They each have their pros and cons. I can’t recommend one over the other, because we often used them all in conjunction with one another for various aspects of our search.
Personally, I thought Zillow was the most user friendly and had a good bit of information on the house, nearby houses, and the neighborhoods.
Trulia also lists helpful information on the house and neighborhood.
The real estate listing for your area is likely to be different than the one we had access to, so you’ll have to just play with it. We found that ours wasn’t very user friendly, but still had decent info in terms of the house, square footage, some amenities, and the selling agent.