As an Associate Broker at Century 21 Conexus Realty Ltd. in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, I’ve assisted numerous people in the process of choosing a new home. In working with and getting to know all these folks, I’ve found that there are always 3 key bases that people need to cover during the process of choosing their new home.
Whether you’re a first time buyer, someone making a move to a new city, or an experienced buyer and seller who is now seeking the perfect home for your retirement, these same 3 principles will apply each time and every time.
Personal preference of course always plays a part in the specifics, but balance is essentially what people are wanting to achieve – the right mix of AFFORDABILITY, AVAILABILITY and the probably the most important one, SUITABILITY. Lets talk about each one in more detail:
I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s not the greatest idea to buy the house of your dreams if it’s going to turn into a financial nightmare! Have your eyes wide open regarding how your home purchase will impact your lifestyle. It’s standard wisdom that your mortgage payments should not exceed 35-40% of your net monthly income. If there are improvements that you want to make to the property, remember to work that into your calculations. Many bank and mortgage lender websites have mortgage affordability calculators that can help you to determine if you are in danger of borrowing too much.
So lets say that you’ve now decided on the price range that will work for you. Now its time to find out if the sort of property you want is available in either the types of areas, or in the specific area that you would like it to be. Here’s a word to the wise: Don’t be too rigid in your approach – it limits your options. It’s quite likely that you may have to compromise on some of your specific wish list items along with your overall likes and dislikes about a potential new home. Be prepared to be somewhat flexible.
Make your hunt for a home a thorough and effective one. These days, there are numerous ways to help you out with your search such as websites and newspaper ads. Sometimes, even simply driving through the desired areas can yield some good results. If you have the time and focus to spend on that, these things will all help you. I’m biased, but I still believe that you enjoy a significant time and results advantage when you have a hardworking, sincere and resourceful agent working on your behalf during this process.
So now maybe you’ve narrowed your search down to one or two properties that are attractive to you, and are in the price range you’ve decided on. How do you know when to “go for it,” and when to pause for more thought? From experience, I can say that time can sometimes be a factor with a real estate transaction – sometimes you must move quickly to close a deal on a home you want. But not moving fast enough is a far better consequence to deal with than moving too fast! Never let time pressure stop you from weighing all the factors and considerations. There are quite a few to think about. In no particular order, they are:
- Accessibility: Is it convenient for work? Close to main thoroughfares? Does the garage or driveway have room for the vehicle/s you adn your family drive?
- Noise: How close is it to traffic arteries? Is it close to the flight path of any airport? Are there rail tracks anywhere close?
- Schools: If you have a young family or plan one then be sure to check out the distance to local schools (parks and playgrounds too).
- Space: If you are buying a home that you plan to live in for a while, have a really good look through it and make sure there is space for the family to grow. How many bedrooms? Can more be built if necessary? Is the basement finished?
- Crime: If you are not familiar with the area you’re considering as your new neighborhood, be sure to find out what it is like and what sorts of people live there. Do most people own their homes or are their lots of renters? How are area houses and yards kept up? Some local police now publish crime statistics by area online. Call them and ask.
- Location: Bottom line – this should always be your number one consideration. You can improve the property but you can’t move it. Think not just about the overall attractiveness of the neighbourhood, but also how it might change in the future. What are the trends?
- New developments: If there is lots of development or building going on, that could be a good sign, but check around the area. Is the development commercial or residential? Industrial or retail? Be sure that you ask your agent or lawyer to check on this as well.
Its often said that buying a home is one of the biggest decisions a person can make and I won’t disagree. Whether its your first time or you’re an old hand, be sure to cover your bases so that you can happily get to home base!