04-27-2009 02:06 PM - last edited on 04-30-2009 10:36 AM by Matt
Many of our clients are first-time homebuyers and I have seen a need lately to go over these points with our FTHB clients. They seem to appreciate the points I make. Thought I woud post here too.
Find your target area(s) before you tour.
- Drive the area. Closest freeway entrance? Nearest grocery store? Traffic patterns? Attend open houses to get a feel for prices/neighborhoods. Do all of this on a Sunday when there are a lot of open houses.
- Commute time. Do the drive on a weekday. Or ask on this forum. Or ask a co-worker who lives nearby.
- Research schools. Schooldigger.com or greatschools.com are great websites. Even if there are no kids in your household, buying in a good district with good schools will help when you go to sell.
Know what kind of house you want/don't want before you tour. A few tips...
- Make a list of all your needs, wants and no ways. Write it all down. This list will expand as you get further into the process. Then you will not need a list. You will just know. But it is good to start with one. To define what you want. Must have a large level lot? "Light and bright" very important? Would like a bonus room but not a neccessity? Need a 4th bedroom for when Granny comes to visit? Need space for a dog run?
- Fixers, many are foreclosures, can have a lot of issues with them and even though the price may seem like a bargain and quite tempting, in the end, is it worth it? Usually, they have not been well cared for at all. Many times we have seen that the roof will need replacing before your bank will even finance. Furnaces and appliances many times are nonexistent or not working. Carpeting/flooring is usually soiled past livabitlity. I have seen houses with mold problems, obvious siding, plumbing, electrical and structural issues. Most homes need at least $20-30K just to get them kinda liveable--no asthetics. Also, dealing with banks and the tightening of the FHA rules makes these processes harder than ever. Like, how in the world are you supposed to fix a roof when it is not even yours yet? Does this fit in your financial budget, time constraints, patience level and know-how?
- Newer/new construction's lots are smaller. The upside to them is the appliances are newer to new and the plumbing/electrical systems are, as well. And the carpeting is newer. Everything is new and shiny! And the living spaces are bigger/more open than older homes. Probably not a lot of upkeep in the next few years. But if you are looking for a backyard to throw a baseball or plant a large garden or perhaps, practice with your band, probably not in these houses!
- Older homes. Larger lot sizes. More upkeep. May need a new roof soon. May need some updates. Systems are older. But those lot sizes and the privacy!!! What is most important to you?
- A lot of people overlook this when searching but lot sizes are a very easy way to wittle down your list before you tour, depending on your needs. So many times, I step foot in the door of a house with a touring client and they say, "Oh, this lot is too small--we need room for a ____.".
If lot size is important to you here are a few guidelines. If you look at the pictures you can usually tell a backyard's size. (Unfortunately, wide-angle lenses can distort the pictures.) Excuse the "baseball" comparisons...
Under 4000 SF will probably be just 5 feet (on sides) and 15 feet in front and back, or smaller, depending on where the house is situated on the lot. If it has a picture with a good sized front yard and is under 4000 SF that means the backyard will be very small. Great for non-gardeners or workaholics. Rule these out if you want to put in a swingset or have large BBQ parties.
Under 6000 SF-some yard but probably cannot toss a baseball very hard at all. A small garden area is possible with small outside entertainment area.
Under 8000 SF-you could toss a baseball but not if you are playing anything above Little League. Probably a nice sized garden is possible and large outside dining area.
Under 10000 SF-you could huck a baseball pretty hard. A good sized garden is definately possible.
Over 12000 SF- you could throw a baseball hard and hit as well. Tree fort material.
Get in touch with a lead agent as soon as you can--even before you tour. We have found that our first-time homebuyers really benefit from this connection, sooner, more than later. A bit more handholding is welcome and of course, expected. Your lead agent can, among many, many other things, pull up CMA's (Comparable Market Analysis) of recently solds (from the MLS database) of comparable houses in the area or neighborhood you are looking. CMA's are basically spreadsheets of any search we, as agents conduct (we can get really detailed on this search) and stack the listings right on top of each other. Good yummy data crunching stuff!
The more you know what you want going into this the easier it becomes. And the better chance of getting the home you have always wanted.
Good luck in your search!
05-21-2009 07:41 PM
It is under
"Schooldigger.com or greatschools.com are great websites. Even if there are no kids in your household, buying in a good district with good schools will help when you go to sell."
06-10-2009 01:03 PM