Whether you’re looking for a new home to buy, or a new place to rent, it can be a very big step with a lot of questions. Here are some house shopping tips.
Before you can start house shopping, you need to know how much you have to work with when it comes to a budget. Visit your local bank, mortgage broker or lending agency to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. Remember that your rates and approval will depend on your credit rating, income and any other savings you’ve set aside for a down payment.
Make A House Shopping Needs List
Before you start seriously looking at homes, sit down and think about what exactly you want, what you need, and what would be nice to have when it comes to a home.
- How many bedrooms? Bathrooms?
- Attached garage?
- Central A/C?
- Heat Pump? Furnace (gas or electric)?
- Basement or crawl space?
Also think about location—if you have, or are planning to have kids, you’ll want to look at school districts.
Do Your Research
If you’re looking at houses that are part of a homeowners’ association (HOA), ask for a copy of the HOA contract to see if there are any red flags as to what you can and cannot do with your home and property.
A lot of houses will be staged for potential buyers—artwork, furniture, layout—to give you an idea of the home’s potential. But don’t forget to look beyond the staging, or the lack thereof, and see the house for what it is. Don’t like the color of paint? Easily repaint with a color of your choice. Landscaping not what you’d like? Start planning for a big overhaul in the Spring. Cosmetic details such as these tend to turn off some buyers because they forget they can change things once the keys are handed over.
However, if the house only has two bedrooms and you need three or four, that’s something that’s not easily changed, unless you have the budget for a remodel once closing has finished. If you’re buying with the intention of completely renovating the house, build that timeline into your moving timeline (i.e., don’t plan on canceling your current lease in four weeks if the renovation timeline is 12 weeks).
Consider Home Comfort
The home’s HVAC system is probably one of the last things a potential buyer considers once looking through their checklist, but it’s an important one. You don’t want to forget to look at the home’s current heating and air conditioning system. Unless you have an extra budget set aside for such, the last thing you’d want to do after purchasing a new home is purchasing a new HVAC system on top of that.
- Evaluate the equipment during your home tour: look for rust, cracks, dents, water stains or any other damage on or around the HVAC equipment.
- Listen to the system as it turns on—if it hasn’t turned on during your tour, ask the realtor if the thermostat can be adjusted so it’ll turn on.
- Check out the ductwork and insulation—look for any loose connections, gaps or condensation on any visible ductwork.
- Ask the homeowner/realtor about the insulation and take a look at the attic, if you’re able to.
Your local home comfort technicians at Air Specialist can perform any inspections to the HVAC equipment, ductwork and insulation prior to buying any home. A poor system is not a deal breaker, but working with a company you trust can help you be better informed when you make a decision to make the largest purchase of your life.