One of the most vital decisions you’ll have to make in your life is choosing a home for you and your family. It is a monumental experience because this will be the place where you will create memories, celebrate important milestones and ultimately this home will become a haven for you and your family when you need solace from the daily pressures of work, school and life in general.
Buying a home can be quite exhausting because it involves factors that you might not have even thought about. This can make the process quite overwhelming, especially for first time buyers who many not have realized the many details involved, but that’s to be expected. Hopefully this information will simplify the process and help to put your mind at ease in some way.
Once you’ve decided that you want to purchase a home, do a little research online so that you have a clear idea in your mind of the type of home you think will best suit your family, the area you want to live in, and the amount it will cost you. This will make things easier for you and your real estate agent, which brings me to the next step; hiring an agent. Make sure that this person is properly qualified and licensed, and can take the time to explain the process and answer any questions you might have.
Analyze Your Finances
This might very well be the most important factor to consider as it will ultimately impact all the other things that will come into play. When buying a house you must think about your budget and how much money you can afford to spend on the property. It is important to note that there are several other costs associated with this purchase, these include realtor fees, mortgage application fee, home inspection costs, and closing costs. Additionally, once you’ve acquired the home, you will incur other expenditures such as moving costs, property tax, homeowner’s association fees, title insurance notary fees, etc. so it is important to keep this in mind when assessing your budget.
As it relates to finances, you’ll need a real estate purchase agreement once you’ve found the house of your dreams and decide to make an offer. This, in layman’s term, is a contract between a buyer and seller which outlines the terms of the deal, and can really help to put your budget in perspective. This agreement should explicitly specify which aspect of the home buying process you and the seller will be financially responsible for, as it relates to home inspection fees, closing costs, escrow fees, transfer tax and some of the other monetary obligations previously mentioned.
Closing Cost Fees
This comes at the end of a deal and is often incurred by the buyer, but it’s not far-fetched for the seller to pay this fee; it depends on the terms of the real estate purchase agreement. It’s hard to give an exact figure, as the amount is different depending on the price of the house, the state in which you live and a few other factors. However, it is typical for the amount to range between 2-5 percent of the property cost. Closing cost fees often include a variety of things such as attorney fees, appraisal, inspection, loan fees, survey fees, real estate commissions, pest inspection, and so on.
Monthly Carrying Costs Worksheet
A document used to evaluate your monthly carrying costs before purchasing a house. This includes estimated purchase price, loan amount and property taxes.
Think About Location
Your finance situation can affect your location options to a large extent. Whether it’s the hustle and bustle of city life or nice, quiet suburbia, whether you prefer the uptown or downtown life you will notice a drastic price difference between these locations. However, while cost is important, do not underestimate the importance of location. Don’t let your budget ultimately determine where you live; of course it will be a factor but it shouldn’t be the most important aspect of this process. Here are some things to consider when scouting for locations to live.
- Safety – Chances are you will be able to find properties that fall below your budget, but think about why these places are so cheap. The house might be great but is the area safe? If you have a family— especially young children then this should be top of the list when looking at property locations.
- Proximity to school, work etc - Think about the length of commute that you can endure, and how much this will cost you. Who wants to spend 2 hours in traffic per day going to work and back, and with these rising gas prices who can afford it? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it works out much cheaper to get a home in the country and drive into the city for work, if it makes financial sense then make a decision that works best for you and your family.
- Convenience – Think about the things that are important to you and ensure that they are within reach. Restaurants, mall, gym, movie theatre, schools, park, church, library; whatever you need in your life ensure that your home base has these things available close by.
Think About the Type of Home You Want
I did mention before that your budget will ultimately affect all the other aspects of the home buying procedure and this is no exception. What type of home do you see yourself living in, condominium, townhouse, single family home? It all depends on the needs of your household. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a large budget to work with, then a condominium is the more affordable option to consider, but certainly not ideal for an expanding family. It doesn’t offer much privacy and there is usually little to no yard space for kids to run around and play. Additionally, you are confined to many rules and even have to get permission from the homeowner’s association if you want to paint your walls a certain color, or make any structural of decorative changes to your home.
Townhouses are certainly a step up from a condominium, but if you want a large space to spread out then this won’t be your best option as they tend to be quite narrow, although they have several floors. Townhouses don’t usually have a lot of yard space either, and there’s not much in the way of privacy as they are typically situated close to other townhouses, but many offer great shared amenities such as pool, gym, spas—for an annual fee. If you plan to expand your family and you can afford this option, then a single family home is your best bet, offering privacy, space and the ability to expand if you so desire.
Other options to consider are whether you want a fixer-upper, a pre-owned home or something brand new. Again, this will all depend on how much money you are willing to spend, and how soon you want to move into your home. If you are on a time crunch then a fixer upper simply won’t do as these often require a bit of work before you can move in. A brand new home won’t require any work, and chances are you’ll be able to move once you’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s. Pre-owned homes can offer a quick move in time as well, but it all depends on the condition of the property.
Home Comparison Worksheet
A document used to compare houses including the must have features, the features they hope to have and the no ways.
Find the Ideal Size
While we often dream of 15 rooms and 7 bathrooms, this isn’t always realistic, and it certainly isn’t cheap. Find a home that is large enough to accommodate your family comfortably, but you don’t need to put yourself in debt in order to buy property. The size of your home is dependent on how many people are going to live in it, and if you are planning to expand your family in the near future, you must take this into consideration as well. Another key factor is the property’s potential for expansion; you may not have the need or means for a 7 bedroom house right now, but if you plan to expand your family in 5 years, by that time you may be able to afford it so keep this in mind when searching for your ideal home.
Create a Checklist
To ensure that you find the perfect home for you and your family, create a checklist of your requirements. Make sure you write down your requests in order of importance; include every single thing no matter how trivial it may seem. Make sure to include the important things such as preferred location, type of house, amenities, budget, and whatever else you require. You should also make a list of the things that you absolutely do not want. This information should be relayed to your real estate agent and will save you both a lot of time when scouting for properties. Knowing what you want and don’t want will immediately eliminate certain options, but will bring you one step closer to finding your dream home.
Property Purchase Agreement
This Agreement is made between the Vendor and the Purchaser. The Vendor agrees to sell, assign and make over with legal warranty an immoveable property to the Purchaser.