When you’re getting ready to buy a home, or even if you’re just starting to think about it, there’s a lot to consider. We’ve come up with a list of the top questions you should make sure you ask yourself and your family. Besides where you want to live and how much you can afford, there are a few essential questions you want to make sure you find out first. Read on to discover what they are. 

1 — What Can I Qualify For? 

Before you start shopping, sit down with your loan officer and find out what size mortgage loan you’d be able to get. Nothing is harder than finding your dream home only to find out you can’t afford it. Stay in your price range, and you’ll be fine. Besides the monthly principal and interest payment, you’ll need to consider:

  • Taxes – property taxes can vary from home to home; the higher the fees, the higher your mortgage payment. Plus, some areas could have special assessments, so make sure you’re informed. 
  • Insurance – homeowner’s insurance is another item that can vary, so it’s wise to shop around. Plus, if you’re in a flood zone or high-wind area, your insurance costs can go up. 
  • Homeowners Dues – planned communities and condominiums have homeowners’ dues. Sometimes they can be pretty high, so find out about any extra fees before you fall in love with a house or condo to make sure it’s still in your budget.

2 — What Locations are Best for You and Your Family?

Sometimes you know the exact neighborhood you want to live in. Other times, there could be several areas you’d consider. A few things to keep in mind are:

  • If you have kids – are there certain school districts you prefer?
  • How about your work? If you’re commuting, how far are you willing to drive?
  • Would it be OK to pay more for a home if your commute was shorter?
  • Would you prefer to live in the city, the suburbs, or country?

Although these questions might seem obvious, it’s good to have your ideal situation in mind. And, by making this list you might realize there are some areas that could be worth looking at that you hadn’t considered before.

3 — Dream Home or Fixer? How Perfect Does the House Have to Be? 

Some borrowers know right away that they never want to pick up a hammer. Others dream of a fixer. Where are you? One thing to keep in mind when you’re looking at homes online is photos can make the house look better, and the rooms look much larger. Once you can see the property in person, you’ll have a better idea if it’s a fit. 

If you don’t want to have to do any upgrades, paint, or fix anything, let your realtor know. Although most homes will have something to do, if you’re persistent, you can find something that fits your preferences. 

Make sure to check out the age of the roof and HVAC system as they can be expensive to replace. 

4 — What About a Garage?

Depending on where you live, two and three-car garages might be easy to find. In other parts of the country, especially in older neighborhoods, one car garages are the norm. If a big garage is essential, decide before you start shopping because, most likely, you’ll need to stick to newer areas. And if having enough room for a shop is a necessity, then add that to your list. 

If you have new cars or SUVs, make sure to measure the garage door opening to make sure your vehicles will fit. Along with the garage, check out the driveway. Is it easy to pull into, or is it on a steep incline? If you live in an area with snow, you might want to avoid steep driveways, especially if you have teenagers. 

5 — What’s Your Ideal Neighborhood?

Some shoppers want an active neighborhood where everyone knows their neighbors. Others are the opposite and value their privacy. Decide what’s best for you. Here are a few more things to think about:

Shopping – if living in the country away from major shopping is unappealing, make sure you figure that out before you check out the latest new homes 10 miles out of town. Whereas it’s easy to fall in love with new construction, make sure it’s in a location you’d like to live in. Having to drive 20 minutes to the grocery store to pick up milk might get old. 

Rules – do your friends call you a free-spirit or a rebel? If so, think twice before you join a neighborhood that has a homeowner’s association. Whereas if you love an orderly existence and rules don’t bother you, planned communities have many advantages, like great amenities, well-kept homes, and a uniformity that can keep the property value up. 

Other children – if you have kids, or want kids shortly, shop in a neighborhood where there are lots of young families. That way, your kids will have friends to play with that go to the same school and live nearby. 

6 — How Long has the House Been on the Market?

When you’re getting ready to put in an offer on a home, it’s good to know how long it’s been on the market. If it’s newly listed, it might not be a smart idea to come in with a low offer. But, if it’s been on the market a while, that’s another story. In hot markets, there can be multiple offers for desirable homes, so you want to make sure your offer will be considered. When negotiating, you don’t want to put in an offer that will get automatically rejected because it’s way too low. And on the other hand, you don’t want to over-pay. Talk to your realtor, so you know what a reasonable offer is. They’ll be able to guide you so you can get the home of your dreams. 

We hope these home shopping tips have been helpful. When you’re ready to buy a home, the experienced team at Total Lending Concepts is here to help!