Things You Should Know And Ask Before Buying a House
The US housing market continues to be hot this year and in the near future. If you are looking to become a homeowner soon, let’s break down the things you need to know and ask before buying a house to make it less stressful.
Six years renting and we’re finally considering buying our house. Our family is growing and the kids have changing needs. Maybe our plans were delayed for some time because of pregnancy, not enough savings, and timing but we’re making it happen this year. As we look back on these past years, God is leading us in this perfect season.
As my family embarks on this journey, I am sharing with you some ideas, guides and tips about house hunting and buying. Like most of you, I also feel that buying a house is very stressful. This whole house buying is an overwhelming experience but I am open to the learning process.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of buying a house vs renting?
Buying a house and renting have their shares of pros and cons. The question is what serves your family well over time.
BUYING A HOUSE gives a sense of security and stability. It is a source of pride and joy having a place you can call your own. My kids can freely run around the house without us worrying about disturbing the neighbor. You can also design and remodel your house as you wish. A good home is also a good investment, especially if the market gets to a better place.
On the other hand, owning a house is a big responsibility and liability. The cost of monthly mortgage is usually more expensive than renting. This does not include different fees and expenses like homeowners association, insurance, maintenance and repairs, and property tax.
RENTING is generally cheaper than owning a house. You have calculated monthly expenses for the duration of your lease except for the utilities like water and electricity. Another good thing about renting is that maintenance is just one call away. Replacing your appliances or repair on the HVAC is not on your emergency expense list.
While you may enjoy the advantages of renting, it also has downfalls. When you rent, you have neither ownership of your space nor freedom to personalize it. In short, it is what it is. No options to upgrade the included appliances and facilities, not much privacy, and if you are unlucky, you have to deal with loud neighbors.
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What are the things to consider before buying a house?
As I mentioned earlier, our family needs are changing. Since we are looking for a place where we see our kids grow, we made a checklist of the things we are looking for not only in the house but the community as well.
One of the top considerations when house hunting is which state would we want to settle. Since my husband works from home anywhere, we have the freedom to choose where we want to live. Some things we consider in a particular state include not having to pay state income tax, lower cost of living, being close to a Filipino community, and near an urban or semi-urban city.
Another top thing to consider is the budget. How much are we willing to spend for the whole house? Of course we can apply for mortgage loans but still, it will affect our monthly budget big time.
Savings and Downpayment
Enough savings is really not enough when buying a house. There are hidden costs to consider and moving alone will cost a fortune. How much are we willing to spend for downpayment? Breaking the bank is the last thing in our mind after closing on the house.
New or Resale
Do we want a house built from the ground up, or a resale? A newly built house comes with basic features and every add-on means cha-ching: more money! On the other hand, a resale house may come with added features and upgrades, but it may also have issues that we will need to uncover and investigate.
Neighborhood and Crime Ratings
Who wouldn’t want a peaceful community? We are looking for a place where we feel safe and welcome, not in a flood zone, near necessities and parks, and has good governance.
School Zone ratings
We want our kids to have access to good schools. To help us find the right school or determine whether a place has a good education system, we use http://greatschools.org. Simply type in the city, zip, address or school name and it will provide information about the school ratings. The good thing is, most real estate listing websites online would provide this information on home listings.
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What are the things you need to look out for before buying a house?
Whether we buy a resale or a new home, I made a checklist of the things to look out for during house hunting. Creating a checklist makes it easier to cross out houses on the market that you don’t prefer. Also, it saves time when you make appointment visits on houses for sale.
Bedroom and Closet
How many bedrooms do you need and how big do you want them to be? You also have to consider the windows. I prefer natural lighting and fresh air during the day so windows are a consideration. In addition, check how large or small your closet is. Do you need a walk-in closet or a sliding door closet would do?
Bathrooms and storage
If you are a person who enjoys taking your time in the shower or tub, having a good bathroom should be in your list. Look at the flooring, how easy it is to clean, the space, faucet, height of the toilet seat and sink.
One of things we are all good at is collecting and acquiring things over time (guilty here). Consider where to store your linens, collections, books, and toys to name a few.
Kitchen and kitchen appliances
Cooking for the family is a thing for me so the kitchen is one of the top things I look out for when buying a house. My kids want to hang out with me when I cook so I want a bigger space in the kitchen. I also check out the pantry, the cupboards, cookware storage, counter and sink.
If you love to host parties, you may want to consider an island in your kitchen. You also need to ask what appliances are included and when they were purchased. Check if they are working well to save time and money for repairs.
My boys tend to have high energy throughout the day. When the weather is good, I encourage them to play outdoors. Instead of going to the park everyday, a good space in the backyard would be the best alternative. I also need a space for the garden. My kids and I love to grow flowers and vegetables in spring. It has become an annual family tradition.
My family loves to hang out in the living room. Actually, my boys are there most of their waking time. So, I look out for a common room where we can make memories as a family, comfortable, well-lighted and spacious.
Aside from your appliances and furniture storage, you also need to consider your car. How many cars do you want to fit in a garage is a question to ask before buying a house. Not only for cars, a garage can also be a storage space for tools, bikes and other stuff. It can also be your workstation for future house projects.
Like I mentioned earlier, I prefer natural lighting in the daytime. At night, I want a well-lit room especially in the living room. I also prefer minimalist styles of lighting and chandeliers.
Overall feel of the house
I think many house hunters overlook this factor because the appeal and style of the house alone is deceiving. A house may look modern on the outside but the inside facilities and appliances are outdated. On the other hand, a colonial ancestral house on the outside may have a modern look on the inside. When looking for a house, check for the elevation and the interiors. Do you want an open floor plan, a farmhouse feel or nice and tight? On the outside, do you prefer a colonial, modern and contemporary, or ranch style?
Whether you settle for a resale or a newly built house, I am hoping this list of things to know and questions to ask before buying a house will help you find the perfect home for your family. And who doesn’t deserve a house that makes you feel warm and comfortable? I hope you still join me on my next post about our house hunting journey. Until then!