This is part 3 in my mini-series on home buying. If you’d like to start from the beginning, click here.
So, you’ve decided it’s time to buy a house. You’ve done a thorough analysis of your financials and things are looking positive. Now you’re ready for…
STEP 3 Shopping
A smart shopper never shops alone; they will always take a buddy to make sure that someone is there to keep them from making silly impulse purchases. This person is your realtor, and you better make sure you have one you trust to act in your best interests.
A good realtor will hold your hand through the entire home-buying process, but your initial meeting should help you focus on a few things:
Your goals. These are criteria for your future home that probably won’t change, like:
- The purpose of your house. Are you looking for a property to be your primary residence, or a rental property?
- Your lifestyle requirements. Are you buying a bigger house in the ‘burbs because your family is expanding in the near future? A small condo because you want to live in a heart of downtown and enjoy the city?
- The time you’ll spend in the home. Is this a property you plan to live in for a few decades, or just a few years?
- Features of the neighborhood. Think hard about this one. Initially, The Man and I were jazzed to be city-types a stone’s throw from downtown. Upon further consideration, we realized we have zero actual motivation to be downtown and would rather opt for a nearby movie theater and a nice grocery store.
Your wants. These are criteria that can be a little more flexible. This could include:
- An open floor plan or backyard.
- A particular number of bedrooms or bathrooms.
- Proximity to public transportation/length of commute to work.
- Nearby community amenities like parks or swimming pools.
When we first started this process, our list of wants by far outstretched that of our goals. There were some optimistic expectations of closet space, kitchen layout, and exercise rooms. In the end, we realized very few things actually mattered: privacy from the road, at least one spare bedroom, a nearby nice grocery store, commute times, and no structural work required.
So, now is the time to figure out your goals and wants. Write things down, cross them off, have a drink, write them back in, etc. It takes time to come to your final conclusions, so be patient with yourself.
But until then,
I’ll be right here.