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Look at location and beyond
When you’re looking to buy a home for sale, the process entails more than just comparing the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in each dwelling that catches your eye. Your potential investment also goes beyond the confines of the home’s walls.
In a highly competitive market, buyers are willing to compromise on factors that could cause problems later, simply because they’re anxious about getting into a house.
“For instance, they might overlook the fact that it has no backyard or that it’s next to a busy street,” says Kris Paolini, a senior agent with Redfin in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
So yes, “location, location, location” remains a valid factor to consider when looking at homes for sale. Read on to learn what else should be on your radar.
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Look at investment value
It’s easy to superficially fall in love with a house; but you have to take a peek under the hood, so to speak.
Paolini suggests examining a house’s electrical panel, air conditioning unit, furnace, roof and grading around the house.
Don’t be seduced by the home shopping process when you’re looking for a home for sale, says Marietta Rodriguez, vice president of national homeownership programs at NeighborWorks America in Washington, D.C.
“Things that appeal to them once they start looking at homes can sometimes outpace some of the things that are most important,” she says.
Remember that a home purchase needs to be approached as an investment.
Buyers should be asking, “Where can I find a property that is going to hold its value the best over time and increase in value the most over time?” says Daren Blomquist, vice president for RealtyTrac in Irvine, California.
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Look at history and neighborhood
Is the home close to public transportation? How’s the local job market?
“Even before you can get a home inspector in there, you can do some what we call ‘pre-diligence,'” Blomquist says.
For instance, it’s worth checking building permits to find out about any home improvements the previous owners made.
One way to do research on a home for sale is by checking HomeDisclosure.com, a RealtyTrac website. You can also request records from the city or county government.
The quality of the local school system is another major factor to consider.
“A lot of homes that are in a lower-rated school (district) sell for significantly less,” Paolini says.
Gather info on crime, environmental hazards and natural disasters, adds Blomquist.
He says visitors to Home Disclosure have been checking the level of equity the current owner has in a property, as well.
“That can give you leverage in negotiating with that homeowner if you know they have a lot of equity in their home, they may be easier to deal with,” he says.
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Look closely at your budget
Have a thorough understanding of what’s most important for you to have in a home, Rodriguez says.
“Is it some place you’re going to be comfortable? Can you see yourself living there for several years?” she asks.
When you apply for a mortgage, think twice about borrowing too much, especially because many lenders may provide a bigger loan than you’re able to repay, Paolini warns.
“I tell (clients) to keep that in mind and make sure that they’re working within their budget and they’re not overextending themselves,” he says.
Take advantage of a housing counselor for extra homebuying help, advises Rodriguez.
“It’s never too late to engage them,” she says. “They’re an unbiased party and partner in the process.”
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