There’s an old saying that goes ‘Knowledge is power.’ When it comes to buying a home, the saying should be ‘Knowledge is the power to not live in a home you hate for ten years.’ The key to being happy in a new home is knowledge, so we put together a quick guide to home-buying knowledge.
Know Your Budget
Before you even start looking at homes, it’s critical to know your finances. Take a good hard look and figure out what you can afford. Keep in mind that the mortgage is only a part of the cost. You will have homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, but that’s also not the end of it.
If you buy an older home, you can count on repairs. Older homes have character – and when I say ‘character’ I mean ‘expensive flaws that are not covered by a warranty.’ Pipes will leak. Foundations will settle. Roofs will weather. You will have expenses. It’s not an if – it’s a when.
New homes grant a lot more peace of mind. A D.R. Horton home comes with a substantial warranty, for instance, that will save a lot of money on repairs. However, your mortgage will likely be higher than on an old home, and you may have HOA fees.
Home-buying knowledge means knowing exactly how much you can afford to spend. This is likely a lot less than a lender will approve. Knowing your budget will help you avoid overspending.
Know What You Want – And What You Need
If you have a big family, you need more bedrooms. You might want a pool – but that’s probably not a need. It is important, before you start looking, to know which wants are needs. This will vary by the buyer, obviously. This is why D.R. Horton offers a variety of home brands.
If you are young and have a small family, you likely need a lower-cost home with fewer rooms. An Express Home might be perfect. When your family grows and you can afford more home, you might want a nicer home with more space, such as a D.R. Horton home. If you are approaching retirement and your kids have moved out, a smaller, single-story home is likely ideal. Freedom Homes would be a great choice.
Whatever your situation, decide if you need a gas dryer hookup, or if you just want it. Do you need gutters? Could you live without a formal dining room? Do you entertain, and need a good place to have a barbecue? Or do you just want one? It is perfectly valid to look for a home that has what you want. It’s just that it’s more important that it have what you need.
When it comes to wants versus needs, this home-buying knowledge will let you make smart decisions. It’s not hard to fall in love with a place and make an emotional decision. Knowing your wants and needs ahead of time will help you make smart choices, not emotional choices.
Know Your Area
Another important aspect of home-buying knowledge is the area where you might live. It’s not enough to like the house. It’s not even enough to like the block. You need a good feel for the whole region. You’re going to be there a while.
At the beginning, you can just drive the areas you’re considering. It should be obvious pretty quickly if they work for you. It also can’t hurt to check crime stats, but cast a wide net. Your street might be quiet, but sooner or later you will have to leave your new home. A little research and hands-on investigation can help you avoid unhappiness later.
Once you start considering a home, check it out several times. It might look great at lunch-time but play host to street races after dark. That idyllic location won’t be as great if the morning traffic is going to make you wish you could charter a helicopter. And noise issues could be cyclical – a freight train could go past the neighborhood every day at 9 AM, and be quiet the rest of the day.
Know Your New Home
There’s one last, important aspect of home-buying knowledge – the home itself. Once you choose a home, knowing details becomes more important than ever. Reading the disclosure before you make an offer is just the first step.
Once you make an offer, it’s important to have the home inspected. We went into this in a lot more detail in this article. Short version – always get an inspection. Home-buying knowledge means knowing what you’re buying.
Finally, if you’re happy after the inspection, check the survey. You don’t want to ruin your relationship with your neighbor before it begins, and disputes over who owns what land can be both expensive and incredibly stressful. Know where you have easements. Know who owns that tree that might drop limbs.
There are a lot of different aspects of the home-buying process, but mastering your home-buying knowledge will make the process easier. You will be reaping the benefits of your knowledge for many years to come.