Much like careers, houses can feel “stale” if you stay put for too long in one that is no longer the best fit for you and your family. Often times I hear people say, “I’m just too busy as it is. How will we find time to get our current house ready to sell and search out our next home?”
Don’t let your already busy life deter you from making a move. With a little up front planning, and great communication with your trusted real estate agent, finding your new dream home can be as east as 1-2-3.
Here are my three P’s to get you started – no matter how busy you are!
Buying a house is no different from any other project – a checklist can help you stay on track and focus on the elements that are truly important to you. It also gives your real estate agent clear parameters with which to set up your initial search.
The following items are a good starting point for your checklist:
- Location: Where do you want to live (zip code, neighborhood, school district)?
- Distance: How far would you like your home to be from work and other regular commuting destinations?
- Number of bedrooms: What is your preferred number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
- Type of home: What type of home is suitable for your family’s needs (single family, condo, town house, etc.)?
- Features: What specific features should your home have (large lot, office, pool, etc.)?
- Price: What is your price range? Are you flexible or firm on this?
While you are in the planning phase of this project, it is useful to get pre-qualified by a lender before you start your home search as it will give you a starting point regarding how much you can afford and help keep your home search within budget. Getting pre-approved will also make your offer stand out to the seller as you will appear to them as a committed buyer which will help in the negotiation process. If you don’t already have a lender, ask your agent for a couple of referrals.
Once you have created a checklist for your home, the next step is to prioritize. Ask yourself which items in the list are high priorities and which can be adjusted to move to a lower status. This step will give you, and your agent, clarity during the home search and negotiation stage. For example, the maximum distance, price range, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms may be high priority and non-negotiable. You may be more flexible on the total square footage, room sizes and other features though based on the availability of matching homes for sale.
3. Preview the Neighborhood In Person & On Line
After narrowing down your search results and selecting homes that match your criteria, drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day to see the advantages and disadvantages of the area, the traffic flow (is this a common commute route, school zone, etc.?), the noise level (train tracks, fire station close by, etc.?) and other factors that may be important if you were to move in. Check online resources to verify school zones, property lines, new development nearby, etc.
If you take the time up front to plan, prioritize and preview, you should have an efficient and productive experience when it comes time to tour and negotiate for your dream home.