Secrets of Savvy Househunters
Experienced home buyers know that there’s more to look for than a good neighbourhood and a sturdy foundation. They shop with their hearts, their heads – and with the expert advice of a real estate professional. Before you get caught up in the excitement of searching for the perfect home, here are some savvy steps to follow.
1. Know how much you want to spend
Don’t get caught in that trap of finding a perfect home that you can’t afford. Do your homework and define your budget. Caldwell & Associates recommends getting pre-approved for a mortgage or consulting with your lender of choice. Keep your eye on the market, mortgage rates, and news of the day - any changes could impact what you can afford.
2. Scope out the neighbourhoods
Before you start looking at individual homes, figure out in which neighbourhoods you would prefer to live. What are your priorities? How close are schools? Stores? Access to highways and public transit? These all can have an impact on your decision. Also, check common areas in a community like parks and playgrounds – they can say a lot about how the residents feel about their neighbourhood, so look for tell-tale signs of neglect or proud upkeep. A representative from Caldwell & Associates can advice you regarding neighbourhoods' trends, which is good indicator of where people want to live.
3. Make a list
Whether you are working with a Caldwell & Associates representative or trying it alone, take the time to prepare your list before you head out to view a property. Organize your thoughts on paper and come up with a master house wish list to which you can refer. Divide it up into must-haves, would-be-nice items and deal breakers. Provide this list to your Caldwell & Associates representative or carry this list with you so that you can compare homes on the basis of your personal wants and needs.
4. Find a home inspector
Even before you locate your ideal home, have a home inspector at the ready. He or she may even be able to offer you some pointers for things to look out for when you first see a place.
5. Take your time
Don’t try to squeeze more than four viewings into a single day – it can be more confusing than convenient. Brochures with pictures are usually provided (don't assume that it is acceptable to take photos), make note of the pros and cons after viewing each property so you can take a look at the next home without struggling to remember details about the one before.
6. Street sense
Be sure to ask about mutual driveways, parking, zoning bylaws and upcoming construction. You may be in a neighbourhood that is about to be receiving power line upgrades or road repairs that can wreak havoc on getting from point A to point B after you move in. Your Caldwell & Associates representative will work for you in addressing these and many other issues.
7. Hire a Lawyer
Hire a lawyer to protect your interests in one of your, if not the largest, investment you make. Ask for a survey of the property, keep in mind that fences may not be on actual property lines, there may be right-of-ways or there may be common driveways, to name a few, to consider. Consider how these things may come into play in the future either with your purchase or future sale. Rely on your lawyer's judgement and advice related to a prospective purchase.
9. Think it through
In a hot market, it can be hard not to make an immediate offer. While that may work in most cases, be sure to step back, pull out your list and carefully gauge if this property meets all of your must-have criteria. Savvy house hunters say that when you find the right property, you can feel it down to your bones. If that’s the case for you, see if you can wait a day (or a few hours) before making an offer. The only thing worse than buyer’s remorse is letting a dream home get away.