Before You Buy: Important Steps to Prepare for Your House Hunt
If you are thinking of buying a new home, you must pay close attention to many details to ensure that you find one that will suit your needs and preferences. Before you begin your house hunt, here are a few steps you should take to help you find the home of your dreams.
Step 1: Financing Your Home
The first step to the home buying process is determining how much you can afford. Visit our “Financing Your Home” section for resources and tools to help you learn about mortgages, obtaining financing, insurance and other useful information.
Step 2: Prioritizing Most-Wanted Features
Before you start shopping, you should sit down with the members of your household to discuss your preferences and the many options available to you.
An easy way to organize your thoughts is to write each separate feature that you want on a 3X5 card, and arrange the cards in order of their importance to you. For instance, if you like to cook, you may want a home with a large, well-equipped kitchen. Or you may settle for a small kitchen, so that you can have extra space for a library, office or playroom.
Some home buyers seek large, open interior spaces, while others prefer traditional rooms that afford more privacy.
While looking for a home, consider whether your needs are likely to change over time. If you plan to add rooms, find out if there is enough space on your site for such expansion and whether such additions are permitted by your local jurisdiction.
Step 3: Selecting the Type of Home
Options include single-family homes and condominiums. Some home buyers prefer homes with large yards. Others opt for condominiums where they can avoid yard maintenance entirely.
With a single-family home in a development, you’ll be responsible for your own yard and home, but may be restricted to certain design elements or other regulations if there is a home owners association.
A condominium is a home in a multi-unit complex, such as an apartment building or a townhouse cluster. You own the home, and you and your neighbors jointly own the common elements, such as the land around the complex, the parking areas, building exteriors, hallways, utility pipes and recreational facilities. A condominium owners association is responsible for maintaining the jointly owned elements. The day-to-day business of the complex is generally handled by a managing agency.
The owner of each condominium unit has a vote in the affairs of the community. Each owner pays a fee to cover the operating expenses of the property and usually contributes to a reserve fund for replacements (such as a new roof) or improvements (such as decorative landscaping to improve the value of the property). Changes and improvements to the complex may be made only as you and your co-owners desire. You are responsible for maintaining the interior of your condominium unit. Typically, you will not have to perform outdoor chores.
Step 4: Starting Your House Hunt
Now that you know the type of home and features you are looking for, and how much home you can afford, you’re ready to begin searching for your perfect home. Whether you use a realtor to find an existing home or work with a builder to buy a new home, you’ll be more focused with your search. Here are a few additional resources to help you navigate the home-buying process: