The Keys to Shopping for a New Home
Spring is just a few short months away and with it comes the busiest home shopping season of the year. If you’ll be thinking about making a move, here are a few keys to help you shop for just the right home with confidence.
· Get to the know the neighborhood: If you’ll be new to the area you’re thinking about, it’s a good idea to do your homework and look for information about the neighborhood online. Start by checking out local government, community or newspaper sites. See if there’s any recent news about whether the neighborhood you have in mind is on the way up, or just holding its own.
· How are the schools? It really doesn’t matter if you have school-age children or not. A good school district is key to strong property values.
· What other strengths does the neighborhood have? Are there great parks, recreational facilities, sports teams or other amenities that will attract people to the area?
· Don’t forget the crime report. Even the best neighborhoods can be victims of crime. The local police station should be able to give you all the information you need. You can also “walk the neighborhood” and ask your prospective neighbors. (They can also give you plenty of insight into what it’s like to live there in general.) Be sure to go at different times of day and night and on the weekends to see if it feels like “home” to you.
· Talk to the home seller, too. You’ll learn not only about the home itself, but also about their experiences living in the neighborhood.
· See what traffic will be like to and from work. Most buyers shop after hours or on the weekends. Unless you drive to and from the neighborhood during rush hour, you’ll never know what your commute will be like once you move in.
· Get the home inspected! The only way to know for sure what repairs your new home may need is to ask a professional. Once you know what’s needed and the cost, you may be able to negotiate a better price with the home seller.
· Know ALL your costs up front. The principal and interest on your mortgage is just the beginning. You’ll also want to understand what your property taxes and homeowner’s insurance premiums will be. If you have an escrow account, a portion of those costs will be added to your monthly mortgage payment. Also see what the utility bills will be and if you’ll have to pay any homeowner’s association dues.