Sheryl Simon's Blog
Finding the house of your dreams is a process that requires a lot of clarity, diligence, and patience. While it is possible for the first house you look at to be the ideal choice, it's a lot more likely you'll have to look at a dozen or more houses before finding the one that matches your requirements and feels like home.
Whether you're searching for your first home or your tenth, your decision will primarily be based on four factors: affordability, practicality, emotional appeal, and prevailing market conditions.
Affordability is a vital element in the mix because it's difficult to enjoy a beautiful new home if you're always stressed out about whether you'll be able to make the next mortgage payment! Developing a realistic and well thought-out budget is one of the first preliminary steps involved in launching a full-fledged search for your next home. In addition to being able to cover your current expenses and the cost of mortgage payments, you'll also want to ensure that there's a cushion in your budget for things like home maintenance, repairs, improvements, HOA fees (if applicable), property taxes, school taxes, and homeowner's insurance.
As far as practicality goes, your new home should -- at the very least -- live up to your basic needs and expectations. Ideally, all systems should work properly and be in good condition. Proximity to key locations, such as your job, shopping, and essential services can also have a direct impact on your quality of life. Long commutes, cramped quarters, or being buried by an avalanche of repair bills can definitely take some of the pleasure out of home ownership!
The majority of houses you'll look at will probably need some degree of updating, decorating, or repairs, but ideally, you'll want to tackle those projects over the next couple of years, rather than the immediate future! Having an experienced home inspector do a thorough inspection of the home you're interested in will help ensure you're not buying a home riddled with flaws, headaches waiting to happen, and other problems.
Although cost and practicality are vital aspects of buying a new home, you can't (and wouldn't want to) ignore factors such as aesthetics and emotional appeal. If you can't imagine you and your family living in and enjoying a house you're considering buying, it might be time to continue your search elsewhere! The house you ultimately choose should support your lifestyle, provide sufficient space for your family to grow and thrive, and be situated in a neighborhood in which you feel comfortable and safe.
To make the most of your available time and money, find an experienced real estate agent who's responsive to your needs and knowledgeable about the local real estate market. They will help you streamline your search, find houses that meet your criteria and negotiate the best possible price on your behalf.
When it comes to finding your dream home, your vision is going to be both unique and personal.
For many people, their idea of a dream home may be a composite of the home they grew up in and other mental snapshots they accumulated over the years.
In some cases, the house of your dreams may bear little or no resemblance to the image you conjured up in your mind. Sometimes, you just instinctively know the right home when you see it -- even if it's not exactly the one you originally envisioned.
A good starting point for launching your home search is to develop a detailed priority list. It should consist of both "must have" characteristics and "wish list" items. Hopefully, you and your spouse (or partner) will be in full agreement on most of the important features of your next home, such as whether you want a ranch house or colonial. Being on the same page in terms of location can also make a big difference in how satisfied you both are with your real estate purchase. As an example: Someone's going to less than thrilled if, let's say, you want a townhouse in the city, while your spouse has their heart set on a Craftsman-style home in the suburbs!
Trends in Home-Buying Preferences
If you're a member of the so-called "millennial" generation, your top priority in a new home would probably be the quality of the neighborhood. That's according to a "Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report" (2015) compiled by the National Association of Realtors. In order of importance, factors influencing home purchasing choices are: the convenience of the home to one's job(s), overall affordability, access to friends and family, and the quality of schools in the district.
Many buyers in that same demographic are also leaning toward homes that are energy efficient, ones that offer "smart home" capabilities, and dwellings that include a space that can be used as a home office. Since nearly 40% of Americans telecommute for their jobs on at least a part-time basis, more and more home buyers are adding that requirement to their priority lists. Surveys have also shown that prospective homeowners in their twenties and thirties are opting for low-maintenance surfaces, such as flooring, counter tops, and backyard decks. Updated interiors are also a strong preference for many in that age group since they don't have the extra money, time, or inclination to get involved in major renovation projects.
Other factors which belong on house-hunting priority lists include square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the size of the yard. If privacy and noise levels are concerns, then key factors to consider would be fencing, trees and hedges, and the amount of space between houses.
While it's not always possible to find a home that includes every single item on your wish list, an experienced real estate agent can help you find what you want and match your requirements with the available listings in your desired neighborhoods.
Whether you're looking for your first house or getting ready to relocate for the fifth time, house hunting can wear you down after a while!
Not only can it be difficult to coordinate real estate appointments with work obligations and the demands of parenthood, but your stress level is compounded if you're on any kind of time table or deadline.
The secret to survival is to maintain a positive attitude, do your best to remain solution oriented, and work with a proactive real estate agent. A seasoned real estate agent who is familiar with the local market and is skilled at matching client needs to available housing inventory in the area can be your most valuable resource.
Know What You Want
One of the primary ways you can help your agent find your ideal home is to give a lot of thought to exactly what you want. When you're clear in your own mind about what would satisfy you, in terms of location, architectural style, and property size, then it will be a lot easier to refine your search and stay on target. Not only will that help your real estate agent match your specifications to available listings, but it will also help you recognize your ideal house when you see it.
A good starting point is to have a checklist of priorities, essential property features, and preferences that are important to you, your spouse, and your children. Deciding on must-have features as early in the process as possible can provide you with needed focus and momentum as you compare houses and view real estate listings. Although nothing is "carved in stone" and you can always revise your priority list, it can be a valuable tool for both you and your agent.
While everyone has different needs and wish lists, items to give some thought to may include a finished basement, a working fireplace, a two-car garage, a patio or deck, a screened in porch, a spacious back yard, a storage shed, outdoor security lighting, a sufficient number of bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate your immediate family and overnight guests, an abundance of storage space, short commutes to work, and proximity to shopping, essential services, and a well-rated school district.
Some couples have specific architectural styles in mind when they go house hunting, such as Colonial, Contemporary, Craftsman, Tudor, Victorian, and Art Deco. It's also helpful to have a clear idea, and hopefully be in agreement with your partner, about how much decorating, renovating, and fixing up you're willing, ready, and able to do. Knowing how much privacy you must have, the peace and quiet you expect, and the recreational facilities you want access to are other key elements of "the big picture."
Although the biggest hurdle may be staying motivated and optimistic in the face of temporary setbacks and discouragements, when you have a clear idea of what you want and an attitude of positive expectation, you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish!