May
23


10 Things Buyers Need to Know

Thursday, May 23, 2013

 

Buyers spend a lot of time looking at properties online, touring homes, and talking to me,their real estate agent. They’re laser-focused on finding the best home that meets their needs. The problem is, buyers sometimes don’t take the long view of a property. They’re only looking at a home as a potential buyer — and not as someone who, years down the road, may also have to sell the property. Given that homes are such a big investment, there should be a little inside your head, picking away at your options and decisions.

 

 

As the home buying market starts to heat up again, here are ten things you should consider when choosing your next home.

 

 

1. Location, location, location

 

 

Perhaps nothing is more important than the three L’s, and there’s a reason why it’s said three times.

 

 

Location is extremely important when it comes time to sell. You can have the worst house in the world with the ugliest kitchen and bath. But put it on a great block or in a good school district, and your home will be coveted.

 

 

Location location location matters on so many different levels. At the highest level is the town where the house is located, then the school district, then the neighborhood and the block — right down to the location of the lot on the block. Keep all of this in mind when shopping. Also remember that while real estate markets rise and fall, no one can take a great location away from you.

 

 

2. The school district

 

 

The school district is right up there on the list of what’s most important to many buyers. It’s not uncommon for buyers to start their search based solely on the school district they want to be in. Parents want their kids to go to the best school, which can drive up prices of homes in those districts. Even though you might not have children, buying a home in a good school district is always smart.

 

 

If the schools are desirable, homes tend to hold their value. As a homeowner, you should always be aware of how the schools are doing, not unlike being aware of your roof’s condition, the neighborhood development or city government.

 

 

3. The home’s position on the lot

 

 

Where the home sits on the lot in relation to the street or the overgrown oak are key elements in picking out a home.

 

 

In the case of a condo, an end unit vs. an interior unit is a key consideration. You may have chosen the most beautifully renovated home in the best school district and figure all is good. But if the main living areas are shaded by a neighbor’s extension or the master bedroom looks into the neighbors’ family room, you may have a location problem.

 

 

Light or privacy may not be a hot button for you, but chances are, they might be concerns for a future buyer.

 

 

4. Crime

 

 

It’s a good idea to check the latest crime figures for a neighborhood. It can give you a good snapshot about the number and severity of crimes over a time period. So much information is online nowadays that when you find your perfect home, a quick Internet search on the area should provide you with the much-needed information.

 

 

Most municipalities post their police blotters or crime statistics online these days.  Don’t freak out if you notice more crime than what you’d have expected. Crime, especially petty crime, is everywhere. If you’re new to the area, consult with your real estate agent if you have concerns.

 

 

5. Walkability

 

 

More than ever, ‘walkability’ is becoming a key factor in the search process.  There are entire websites, apps and algorithms that help people figure out how walkable their future home is. As a matter of fact, Zillow even has a Walk Score for most homes.

 

 

As people get out of their cars and slip into their Keds, they want a home in a walkable neighborhood. People put high value on the ability to walk to a store, school, work or public transportation.  The more we move away from cars and the more we see invested in public transportation over the coming decades, the more of a huge value-add walkability will become.

 

 

6. The neighborhood’s character

 

 

You may have found the absolute most perfect home, on the best block, in the best school district and on a great lot. But there could be circumstances outside your control that may give you pause — specifically, the character of the surrounding neighborhood.

 

 

Check out the area late at night, early morning and in the middle of the day. See if there are any odd weather or traffic patterns and try to observe some of the neighbors.

 

 

You may even go so far as talking to some neighbors. It’s important to walk around, open your eyes and ears and make sure there isn’t anything you’re overlooking. That next-door neighbor practicing drums in the garage at 9 p.m. could be a source of immediate neighbor conflict. Go into it with eyes wide open.

 

 

7. Don’t buy the best house on the block

 

 

Simply put, avoid buying the best house on the block because there may not be any room for your investment to grow (unless you physically have the house moved to a better neighborhood). It’s better to buy the worst house on the best block, because you can improve the house to add value to an already great location.

 

 

8. Is it a fixer-upper?

 

 

If you’re buying a fixer-upper, make sure you understand what you’re getting into.  Did you set out to buy a home that needed work? Or does the home just happen to be in the most desirable neighborhood, the block of your dreams?

 

 

Do your homework upfront. If you want to build an extension or add another story to the property, make sure it is within local zoning or building codes. Have the property inspected so that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Sometimes, what appears to be a simple kitchen needing cosmetic work turns out to be a huge project. Ask yourself repeatedly if your life can support a home renovation. Not only does a renovation take money, it takes time, energy and emotional stress.

 

 

9. Will the home hold its value?

 

 

A good real estate agent who’s been working the neighborhood for some time can vouch for the long-term value or investment potential of the property. But be sure to find ways to add value, or at least be certain the home will hold its value.

 

 

The market may be strong when you purchase, but ask yourself, “Am I in a seller’s market?” “What would happen to this property if the market changed tomorrow”? Check out the median home value in the neighborhood as it compares to neighborhoods around it.

 

 

10. Taxes, dues and fees

 

 

Many people overlook the monthly fees associated with homeownership. Nearly every property will have taxes, and any sort of planned community or homeowners association (HOA) will have regular assessments.

 

 

Be sure that the amount of property tax and assessments are clear from the get-go. If in doubt, go to city hall or do research online. If you’d be buying into a condo complex, be sure to get your hands on the meeting minutes, financials of the HOA and the condo documents.

 

 

Any mention of changes coming down the pike? Does the HOA seem well funded? It could take one quick $10K assessment to immediately affect property values if you need to turn around and sell your new home. And any uncertainty about the building, its integrity or the financials could scare off buyers when it’s time to sell.

Buyers spend a lot of time looking at properties online, touring homes, and talking to me, their real estate agent. They’re laser-focused on finding the best home that meets their needs. The problem is, buyers sometimes don’t take the long view of a property. They’re only looking at a home as a potential buyer — and not as someone who, years down the road, may also have to sell the property. Given that homes are such a big investment, there should be a little inside your head, picking away at your options and decisions.


As the home buying market starts to heat up again, here are ten things you should consider when choosing your next home.


1. Location, location, location


Perhaps nothing is more important than the three L’s, and there’s a reason why it’s said three times.


Location is extremely important when it comes time to sell. You can have the worst house in the world with the ugliest kitchen and bath. But put it on a great block or in a good school district, and your home will be coveted.


Location location location matters on so many different levels. At the highest level is the town where the house is located, then the school district, then the neighborhood and the block — right down to the location of the lot on the block. Keep all of this in mind when shopping. Also remember that while real estate markets rise and fall, no one can take a great location away from you.


2. The school district


The school district is right up there on the list of what’s most important to many buyers. It’s not uncommon for buyers to start their search based solely on the school district they want to be in. Parents want their kids to go to the best school, which can drive up prices of homes in those districts. Even though you might not have children, buying a home in a good school district is always smart.


If the schools are desirable, homes tend to hold their value. As a homeowner, you should always be aware of how the schools are doing, not unlike being aware of your roof’s condition, the neighborhood development or city government.


3. The home’s position on the lot


Where the home sits on the lot in relation to the street or the overgrown oak are key elements in picking out a home.


In the case of a condo, an end unit vs. an interior unit is a key consideration. You may have chosen the most beautifully renovated home in the best school district and figure all is good. But if the main living areas are shaded by a neighbor’s extension or the master bedroom looks into the neighbors’ family room, you may have a location problem.


Light or privacy may not be a hot button for you, but chances are, they might be concerns for a future buyer.


4. Crime


It’s a good idea to check the latest crime figures for a neighborhood. It can give you a good snapshot about the number and severity of crimes over a time period. So much information is online nowadays that when you find your perfect home, a quick Internet search on the area should provide you with the much-needed information.


Most municipalities post their police blotters or crime statistics online these days.  Don’t freak out if you notice more crime than what you’d have expected. Crime, especially petty crime, is everywhere. If you’re new to the area, consult with your real estate agent if you have concerns.


5. Walkability


More than ever, ‘walkability’ is becoming a key factor in the search process.  There are entire websites, apps and algorithms that help people figure out how walkable their future home is. As a matter of fact, Zillow even has a Walk Score for most homes.


As people get out of their cars and slip into their Keds, they want a home in a walkable neighborhood. People put high value on the ability to walk to a store, school, work or public transportation.  The more we move away from cars and the more we see invested in public transportation over the coming decades, the more of a huge value-add walkability will become.


6. The neighborhood’s character


You may have found the absolute most perfect home, on the best block, in the best school district and on a great lot. But there could be circumstances outside your control that may give you pause — specifically, the character of the surrounding neighborhood.


Check out the area late at night, early morning and in the middle of the day. See if there are any odd weather or traffic patterns and try to observe some of the neighbors.


You may even go so far as talking to some neighbors. It’s important to walk around, open your eyes and ears and make sure there isn’t anything you’re overlooking. That next-door neighbor practicing drums in the garage at 9 p.m. could be a source of immediate neighbor conflict. Go into it with eyes wide open.


7. Don’t buy the best house on the block


Simply put, avoid buying the best house on the block because there may not be any room for your investment to grow (unless you physically have the house moved to a better neighborhood). It’s better to buy the worst house on the best block, because you can improve the house to add value to an already great location.


8. Is it a fixer-upper?


If you’re buying a fixer-upper, make sure you understand what you’re getting into.  Did you set out to buy a home that needed work? Or does the home just happen to be in the most desirable neighborhood, the block of your dreams?


Do your homework upfront. If you want to build an extension or add another story to the property, make sure it is within local zoning or building codes. Have the property inspected so that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Sometimes, what appears to be a simple kitchen needing cosmetic work turns out to be a huge project. Ask yourself repeatedly if your life can support a home renovation. Not only does a renovation take money, it takes time, energy and emotional stress.


9. Will the home hold its value?


A good real estate agent who’s been working the neighborhood for some time can vouch for the long-term value or investment potential of the property. But be sure to find ways to add value, or at least be certain the home will hold its value.


The market may be strong when you purchase, but ask yourself, “Am I in a seller’s market?” “What would happen to this property if the market changed tomorrow”? Check out the median home value in the neighborhood as it compares to neighborhoods around it.


10. Taxes, dues and fees


Many people overlook the monthly fees associated with homeownership. Nearly every property will have taxes, and any sort of planned community or homeowners association (HOA) will have regular assessments.


Be sure that the amount of property tax and assessments are clear from the get-go. If in doubt, go to city hall or do research online. If you’d be buying into a condo complex, be sure to get your hands on the meeting minutes, financials of the HOA and the condo documents.


Any mention of changes coming down the pike? Does the HOA seem well funded? It could take one quick $10K assessment to immediately affect property values if you need to turn around and sell your new home. And any uncertainty about the building, its integrity or the financials could scare off buyers when it’s time to sell.






Comments subject to review.
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Estella said
"That is a beautiful shot with very good lighting ." about Women Consider Owning a Home to be a Vital Component of the American Dream
on Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 9:57 AM

Chris White - Team Leader said
"Unfortunately you are not alone. It's more than an outcry. The powers that be really need to come down harder on Bofa than they already are. Working on these short sale for over 2 years now I've uncovered down right fraud happening on the lenders parts. If they cared more about moving this country forward than protecting their own wallets then they would cut the red tape and approve these short sales in a timely manner. Our team made the wise decision to get BofA loans which were FHA or Freddie Mac backed, approved prior to listing on the market. Then we can list the home as "Price Approved" and close in 30 days. In this instance BofA does a full appraisal, rather than an incompetent "Broker Price Opinion" (nothing against agents but they have no idea how to make adjustments on comparable homes) and then the bank issues an "Approval To Participate" letter which dictates what price we can go on the market and take anything north of 88%. I really do hope your situation improves. " about Congressional Bill to Speed Up Short Sales
on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 9:15 AM

Lisa Zeiner said
"We made an offer 4 months ago to BofA, and have heard nothing. It was a cash offer which is better than the zero money they are collecting now. And since the people don't care they are trashing the place, by the time BofA gets around to it our offer will be gone as the place is a mess!! Septic issues now, garbage being dumnped. All of this could have been avoided if BofA really wanted to correct their cash flow problem and sell these properties in a timely manner. They cry about cash but then do nothing intelligent to fix the problem" about Congressional Bill to Speed Up Short Sales
on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 @ 9:06 AM

Jones Ramirez said
"Thank you for the work you have done into this post, it helps clear up a few questions I had." about How do appraiser’s determine a homes value?
on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 @ 10:07 PM

HollyRobsonf said
"Hey - I am certainly happy to find this. great job!" about Bank of America to Offer Principal Reduction to Underwater Borrowers
on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 @ 6:45 PM