We all have that singular goal that drives us to push harder. For some, it’s paying off their college loans. Others save up to buy a new computer or car. But none is more important to the American dream than owning your own house. For many people, becoming a homeowner is the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. However, buying a home is more complicated than you think.
Just because you’ve saved up for a down payment doesn’t mean your struggles have ended. You also have to carefully consider your options and make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Otherwise, you could end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a dud.
It’s easy to make mistakes, even if you’re the careful type. After all, you can’t be expected to know everything there is to know about real estate. Your dream house could end up becoming a nightmare. Due diligence and vigilance will help you sniff out the problems early on.
When it comes to house-hunting, it’s best to assume that there’s always something wrong with the properties you’re looking at. Your job now is to determine the extent of the problem. Here are a few tips that will help you find the perfect house for you.
1. Pretend you’re doing an audit
Few people want to buy a home that needs thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements. That’s why some sellers go to great lengths to hide any possible issues. It helps to adopt an inspector’s mindset and pretend you’re performing an audit during a viewing. Make sure to check everything, no matter how small.
For starters, test all the switches, knobs, and faucets. One or two issues shouldn’t be a problem, but if every other room is presenting issues, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. If you have any qualms about the property, a visit by a certified property inspector should help clarify things.
2. Hire an inspector
Viewings are a great way to get a feel for the property but don’t base your final decision on first impressions alone. The home buying process isn’t over until the property is inspected by a professional. Real estate agents often try to downplay issues during the viewing, and only an in-depth inspection can bring issues to light. The inspector should tell you whether the structure is sound or if it needs some work.
You might want to hire an engineer if you have plans to expand or modify the structure. That way, you’ll know what your options are early on. Maybe your plans have to be changed or even scrapped. An engineer can also recommend what improvements can be made to the property.
Once the property has been thoroughly inspected, make it a point to review the report. You can bring in an outside consultant to check the findings. They can give you an expert analysis of whether the property is worth the price. You can even convince the seller to lower the asking cost based on the findings of the report.
3. Think about long-term energy use
If you’re looking at older properties, you can ask the present occupants about their average energy consumption. Many older houses consume more energy and are less efficient, translating to higher utility and maintenance bills. You can look at solar companies for upgrades to the infrastructure.
You can also ask the inspector to measure the property’s energy efficiency. Using their own findings and historical data, they can extrapolate the property’s future energy consumption.
4. Plan Well
Houses aren’t exactly cheap, so you want to make sure that your future home will last you for a long time. You might want to consider plans when shopping for houses. For instance, you might be single now, but if you have plans to get married and start a family, then you should buy a family home, not a bachelor’s pad.
It also helps to consider possible changes. If you have older kids, you can turn their old room into an office or library. That way, you still get to maximize your home without having to build new space.
The bottom line
These four tips will help you find the perfect home for your needs. We all have different things in mind, especially when it comes to buying a home, and you might need to adjust your expectations. Just focus on what you actually need and think about the extras later.