Know What You Want And Need

Before you start looking for a house, think about what’s most important to you. If you have a family, include everyone in this process and consider their priorities. While it’s unlikely you’ll find a house that satisfies every item on your dream list, it will help you and your real estate agent to know what’s most important.

In addition to your family’s basic needs and desires, you should also write down any strong preference you have about home styles, exterior finishes, and other aesthetics. If you absolutely don’t like the flow of ranch-style houses or the size of rooms in Tudors, make a note of it. Your edited wish list will make it much easier for a real estate agent to find the perfect house for you.

Depending on available housing stock, how “hot” the market is, and how much you have to spend, you may need to make some concessions in order to purchase a home. Making a purchase, even if nothing on the market entirely fits your wants, is recommended. From an economic standpoint, it’s important to make some compromises and take the leap. Once in your first home, and given time, it will be easier to move up later on.

Make The Most Of House-Hunting Trips

There never seems to be enough time during house-hunting trips, so having a clear and concise idea of what you’re looking for is a great help. It’s also extremely important to clear up any areas of disagreement before you visit your new location. You don’t want to waste valuable house-hunting time working out differences of opinion.

If your time is limited, it’s a good idea to spend most of your trip looking at different areas, rather than focusing on looking at houses first. If you only have a couple of days to look, spend the first day and a half looking at areas and the last half-day looking at houses. When you find an area you’re especially interested in, try to visit the area at several different times of day. A neighborhood that looks good at noon may have a totally different feel at night.

A house-hunting trip is also a great time to test out various commuting lengths in the Atlanta area to get an idea of how far you’ll be willing to travel every day in your new location. Let your real estate agent know the location of your new office before you arrive and discuss your maximum commuting time. That way, your agent can create a search radius based on that location and your maximum preferred commute time. Remember to think in terms of minutes, not miles, when you’re establishing your commuting preference. Distances can be deceiving. A 30-mile commute in one area may actually take less time than a 10-mile commute in another area.

When you begin your search in a new area, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by the choices you find. Considering all of the different housing alternatives available to you is a good idea.

Existing Resale Homes

This is the easiest, fastest way to find a home – and they have some great advantages. These are just a few of them:

  • Mature trees and landscaping.

  • Established neighborhoods with devoted long-time residents.

  • More likely to be closer to metropolitan areas than new homes.

  • More room to negotiate price and terms than a new home.

  • No waiting for building to be finished before you can move in.

As with just about anything in life, there are also some possible drawbacks to an existing resale home. For instance, if previous owners haven’t made certain upgrades over the years, you may find that the house doesn’t have a lot of the things today’s building codes require new houses to have (e.g., a good number of grounded electrical outlets).

Newly Built Homes

This is the choice that gives you the greatest amount of control over getting exactly what you want. Here are some other advantages:

  • Conform to today’s building codes.

  • Reflect the latest in modern architecture and layout.

  • More energy efficient in design.

  • Have the ability to be customized fairly easily.

  • Can offer the opportunity to build friendships based on sharing the new-to the-neighborhood experience with other newcomers.

This option also presents the greatest possibility for inconvenience. Longer time lines, cost overruns, and delayed move-in dates can all be part of building a new home. Plus, you may also have a period of time where you’ll need temporary housing while waiting for the home to be completed.

Renovating An Existing Home

Renovation is an excellent choice if you find a house that “could be perfect, if only….” By adding a bedroom or remodeling a kitchen, a so-so house can become the home of your dreams. This is especially attractive from a financial standpoint if you can move into the house and live there during renovations. This path also offers a way to go if you’re handy with home repair and can’t quite afford the area you’ve chosen.

Previous posts in this series:

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