Buying a new house can be a daunting task, especially if you do not know what you are looking for or if this is your first time purchasing a home. The cardinal rule of buying real estate is staying within your budget. The money you have and the mortgage you can afford determines your budget. If should go without saying that you should not buy something you can not afford. This is especially true when purchasing real estate, since you will likely lose it in legal proceedings anyway.
What Is My Budget?
When determining your budget, factor in the value of your existing property and any outstanding balance on your mortgage loans. When determining what mortgage you can afford, multiply your gross income by two and a half. Factor in any savings you are putting down as well and then you have your maximum budget figure. It is also important to remember the costs associated with moving. To cut down on moving costs, rent to own furniture is an option worth considering. Throughout this process, you can seek assistance through contacting real estate services. They will help with the purchase, sale, and appraisal of property and even provide information regarding estate planning.
New Versus Pre-owned Homes
Once you have determined your budget, the next decision is new or pre-owned. This decision will depend upon your lifestyle preferences, budget, and priorities. New and pre-owned homes each come with their advantages and disadvantages in terms of energy efficiency, arrangement of rooms, and potential repairs.
Buying A New Home
Buying a new home is often the best choice for those who want a home that is move-in ready and does not require any updates or repairs. A new home is also preferable for those who want to design the home themselves and have a say in the house plans and features, such as countertops and flooring. For instance, you can work with your builder to implement energy-saving strategies from everything to lighting and appliances, which will help you save money on utility costs.
If you are concerned about energy efficiency, a new home is almost always a better option. Today, homes are built to meet much stricter national code standards for energy efficiency when compared to just a few years ago. In fact, homes built today use 50% less energy than homes built in the early 1980’s. Recently built real estate actually comes with energy certifications for almost every part of the house, including the walls, roof, windows, doors and appliances. Most pre-owned homes will not be able to assure energy efficiency since it was likely built to meet much lower requirements. Retrofitting a pre-owned home to meet current energy efficiency standards is an option, but it is also an expensive one and the result may still be substandard compared to newer options. Newer homes are also built with fire retardant materials and other safety features such as hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors backed up with battery power.
Buying a Pre-owned Home
A pre-owned home is best for those who want to move to a specific location where new real estate is rare or unavailable. But keep in mind, you are likely going to be stuck with what you buy. This includes the layout of rooms, the height of the ceilings, and lighting, which were likely built to match outdated trends and tastes. A pre-owned home can be right if you enjoy the appeal of vintage homes, or have the aptitude and interest in fixing up an older house. Keep in mind, this endeavor may require significant time and money. The price of carpet cleaning, roof repairs, and cabinet refinishing services can add up.
A newly built house comes equipped with new components such as water heaters, air conditioning units, furnaces, fridges, dishwashers, and plumbing. These products generally come with an extended warranty, some up to 10 years. With a pre-owned home, all these components may have been heavily used and very close to requiring replacement. Replacement costs need to be seriously considered before purchasing a home, or you will be sorry later on. About 40 million people move each year and many make this very mistake. Consider the cost of replacements as part of the true cost of the purchase of a pre-owned home:
- Heating: The average furnace has a life expectancy of 20 years and replacement could cost up to $3,600.
- Air Conditioning: A central air system has an average life span of 15 years. Replacement costs around $4000.
- Flooring: It is almost a guarantee a pre-owned home will require new carpeting. This, along with other upgrades could cost $1000 to over $15,000.
- Roof: A typical shingle roof last around 25 years. Replacing a damaged roof costs a minimum of $5000.
- Painting: You will likely want to repaint the interior and exterior of a pre-owned home, costing a minimum of $5000.
- Kitchen: The cost of remodeling an entire kitchen will range from $20,000 to $40,000.
- Bath: The cost of remodeling a master bath will cost a minimum of $15,000.
At the end of the day, you will decide what you replace or remodel and when, according to your budget. But it is very likely that you will have to make one or several of these improvements over the course of owning a pre-owned house. These are the undisclosed costs of buying a resale home.
Your Personal Requirements
After you have made the decision to buy a new or pre-owned home, it is time to start thinking about your living situation and how your home can accommodate it. Most buyers will have some preconceived specifications in mind, such as wanting a condo or requiring a certain number of bathrooms and bedrooms for them and their children. Maybe a multi-generational family may require housing for seniors in the form of an in-law quarters, especially if they require round the clock home care. These personal requirements will play a huge role in narrowing down your search for the perfect home.
Choosing A Location
After you have made all the necessary decisions, you can begin deciding on a location. It is important to take your potential commute into account, whether you are a driver, cyclist, or use public transport. Using Google maps, check the routes from the home to your work to estimate the time of your potential commute. If you are a cyclist, check the map for bike lanes and paths to ensure your safety. This time spent commuting can add up to hours in a day and weeks in a year. A shorter commute time will result in savings in gas and vehicle maintenance.
What To Look For In A Home
No matter if you are buying a new or pre-owned home, there are numerous visual cues to look out for when touring a property. It is a good idea to hire a real estate inspector before putting money down. Regardless, you should have a checklist to help evaluate the quality and durability of a home.
- The larger the overhang, the less rain will land on the home, resulting in less rain damage which extends the lifespan of siding.
- Roof valleys are prone to issues, so metal ones are preferred.
- Icicles are a sign of issues in the roof assembly, either air leakage or insufficient insulation.
- It is preferable for the ground to slope away from the house rather than towards it, allowing water to drain away from your home, not towards it.
- Eavestroughs prevent backsplash towards the house.
- Downspout water should drain away from the home to prevent flooding.
- Check the bottom and corners of the siding for signs of rot and water damage.
- Shingled roofs do not have nearly the life expectancy or the durability that metal roofs do.
- Check the windows for sloped hills and metal flashings which help shed water.
- Check the brand and condition of appliances.
- Check for signs of mold at the bottom of the windows.
- Check underneath the duct covers for cleanliness.
- Check bathrooms for signs of water damage.
- Check the basement for water damage (Your nose is the best judge – Does it smell musty or moldy?)
Assessing the Value of a Property
When buying real estate, it is important to think of the purchase as an investment, and you want to make a good investment. To do this, you need to know how to evaluate the value of the property. As the old saying goes, the three most important factors in real estate are “location, location, and location,” which is often touted by property experts. In reality, there are many factors that affect the value of a property, even though the location may be the most important.
When looking for a new home, it is important to understand how and why location affects the value. Since value can be a subjective concept, the value of real estate is determined by factors that are generally considered to be desirable for a given population. Much like the value of a stock, this value can fluctuate. The price is originally determined by the value of the land, the cost of construction, and markup for profit. The value then fluctuates according to the value of the surrounding properties and various attractions that develop nearby. Real estate with the highest value is in desirable locations. When looking for a new home it is important to understand what constitutes a desirable and undesirable location.
A location is generally considered to be desirable or prime because:
- It is located within a highly-rated school district.
- The homes border an ocean, river, lake, or park, provided they are not at a high risk of damage from natural disasters.
- The homes have a good view of a city, ocean, mountains, or even golf courses.
- The homes are in walking distance of entertainment and recreation, such as restaurants, movie theatres, parks, and amenities such as jewelry stores, other specialty stores, or even the local children museum.
- The home is surrounded by properties similar in age and construction.
- The neighborhood has a history of maintaining value during economic downfalls.
- The homes provide shorter commutes and travel times.
While the factors that determine a desirable location may be more subjective, considering the personal preference for the city, suburbs, or rural, it is much easier to determine if a location is undesirable if:
- The homes are located too close to commercial buildings that produce bothersome traffic and noise, although this usually does not diminish value in the case of the central or main commercial area of a town or city.
- The homes are located too close to train tracks, overpasses, or busy intersections.
- The homes are part of a neighborhood considered to be high in crime.
- The surrounding homeowners fail to maintain their homes or property.
- The homes are surrounded by hazardous conditions, such as sinkholes.
Although these are great guidelines for assessing the value of a location, circumstances are always inclined to change. It is a good idea to investigate any potential developments that could impact the value of real estate, such as planned construction nearby or vacant land that could be built on in the future. Although, it can be difficult to plan ahead as zoning laws can change and developers alter their plans. Location is the most important factor when determining the value of real estate but keep in mind, this value can be subject to change.
When looking for a new home, sometimes the simplest elements such as moldings, hardwood, or a fireplace will catch your eye. It is up to you to decide what elements are important to you and seek them out while house hunting. If you keep these tips and your preferred elements in mind, you will likely find the home of your dreams. Do not be disheartened if you can not, The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents says nearly every house has a defect. Once you have found your dream home, have the right homeowners insurance to protect it.