What To Look For When Shopping For A Home

By October 25, 2011 BUY
House in Belgravia, Edmonton

Whether to buy a given house shouldn’t be determined by wall color, the appliances, or a cracked sidewalk – although you might be surprised how often things that are easily fixed become a deciding factor. But if you put issues that can be changed aside, you will be able to focus your house hunting on what really matters: the things you’ll be stuck with until you decide to move.

Every homebuyer has unique preferences that will influence his or her final decision, but there are a few aspects of any home you need to consider – regardless of these idiosyncrasies. Check out the key areas you need to focus on when you’re looking to purchase a house.

Price

Price – if only this weren’t a factor is home buying. The reality is, if you’re not looking at price, you’re not serious about buying a home. More than any other factor, price dictates what you can – or will – buy. This is less often a case of what you want to spend than what you can afford (and what your lender agrees to lend you). Not only are you limited by your income and down payment, but also by the market and the current mortgage interest rate. So, if you are in the market for a house, consider price first; it’ll narrow things down a lot and force you to get realistic about what kind of home you can expect.

(If you happen to be wondering about Edmonton real estate prices, please give me a call or drop me a line – I can help show you what makes real estate valuable in Edmonton)

Location

[pullquote_right]Houses in Siberia are probably pretty cheap this time of year. Interested? Exactly[/pullquote_right]
There’s an old joke about the three most important things in real estate. That would have been a pretty short article, but location is a serious factor. Nothing affects value or real estate more than location. In fact, real estate is really just a location that someone owns. Let’s put it in perspective: Where do you live now? Could you work where you work if you lived an hour away? Where would your kids attend school? Are you willing to move to an entirely different city so that you can buy a house? There’s nothing wrong with expanding a search when you can’t get what you want or making some sacrifices to save some money, but everything has to be within reason. Houses in Siberia are probably pretty cheap this time of year. Interested? Exactly.

Size

Where you live is certainly important, but whether the size of the homes in that area will accommodate you is a big factor. You probably have an idea of how much space you need to be comfortable. Is your family growing? Do you plan on having frequent guests? Will you have the privacy you want? The whole point of owning real estate is to have control over how you live (see Why Buy A House?). So after you have decided what you will spend and where you will be, size becomes an issue. Total home size is important, but so are things like lot size or garage size. For example, Edmonton real estate has changed over the years – houses have gotten larger, while lots have gotten smaller. And it’s not just overall sizes that are important. Specific sizes become important as well. Some homes have small bedrooms and small closets, while some devote too much space to a dining room, sacrificing kitchen space in the process. All these ways of slicing up the pie affect your daily life, so consider what you want carefully. Do you actually want a large yard that needs maintaining? Do you really need or want all this space? After all, you’re going to pay for every foot of it.

Condition

[pullquote_left]The nice thing about condition is that it’s much easier to change than size and location – so keep this in mind when you’re buying[/pullquote_left]

A lot of people think that the age and the condition of a property are the same thing. True, some homes are in rough shape after years of neglect, but there are also new homes that are in poor condition and need work. The key is to try not to focus on the age of a home, but rather how well it has been maintained over the years. When you buy, your real estate agent will likely ask you if you’re interested in doing any work on your new place. Do you want to renovate or do you want to have something that’s move-in-ready? If you’re willing to be flexible about the condition of your home, you may also gain some additional flexibility in location, price and size. For example, if you take something that needs a little TLC, you’ll probably be able to afford something larger or in a more desirable location. The nice thing about condition is that it’s much easier to change than size and location, so keep this in mind when factoring it in.

Amenities

Each home has its perks. Real estate agents call these “amenities,” and they include things as simple as a fence, an RV parking pad, a hot tub or air conditioning. These are usually little things in the grand scheme of home buying, but they can be expensive and somewhat important to certain buyers. Usually though, amenities aren’t something that really sell someone on a particular house. They might be enough to generate interest, but unlike location and size, they aren’t factors that everyone agrees on. Some amenities can be items to consider when buying a property and they can be of interest to certain buyers. But besides things like swimming pools and workshops, most amenities can be added to a property at a nominal cost.

Feel

[pullquote_right]You aren’t just going to crunch some numbers on a page and buy the house that comes out on top[/pullquote_right]
Chances are you’re not a robot. You aren’t just going to crunch some numbers on a page, analyze the price-per-square-foot and buy the house that comes out on top. You need to see this house. This is the quickest way to decide what you want to buy. You can certainly imagine that something might pique your interest, but will it feel right to you? Check out the house, walk the neighbourhood or just stand on the property and listen for a while. You’ll make up your mind pretty quick about whether you can see yourself buying that house. And whereas feel is a very important thing, it is not practical to look at houses that don’t fit your budget or your needs. You have to narrow down the search to avoid wasting time. So leave this one for last – and make sure these properties look good on paper before you check them out.

And don’t worry about whether you’ll make an extra $5,000 by buying one house over another – save that for investors. After all, if you don’t like the home you choose, that extra money won’t fix its problems. Sometimes it takes a long time to find a house, and sometimes buyers find one on the first day. As long as you get the right information, you’ll know which one is right for you.

by +Alan F Macdonald REALTOR® | Copyright © – gimme-shelter.com

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Alan F Macdonald

Author Alan F Macdonald

Alan F Macdonald is a real estate agent with Maxwell Challenge Realty in Edmonton, Alberta.

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