5 Tips That Will Have You House Hunting Like a Pro
When you’re looking for a new house and visiting properties that caught your eye, it can be easy to get swept up in the moment and start making concessions about what you want or, even worse, what you need. It’s also common for home buyers to feel pressure to make a fast decision, especially in a hot market when you might be competing against multiple offers. If you’re in the market for a new home, here are a few mental exercises that’ll help keep you on track with your goals.
Before you even start looking at houses, think about your homeownership plan
Is this going to be a starter home or a forever home? Are kids going to be arriving or leaving the nest while you’re there? It’s important to get a clear picture of how the house will fit into your life both now and in the years to come. But remember, the house doesn’t have to meet every future need at this moment. If you’re unsure, buy for your lifestyle now and simply adapt—or sell—when your needs change.
Next, make a list of the Must Haves, Nice to Haves, and Must NOT Haves
Yes, make a physical list on paper and write down the qualities that are most important to you. This list will have two benefits: it will help you organize your thoughts—you might realize that “Victorian charm” doesn’t belong on the same list as “open concept”—and putting it in writing is a proven method for staying accountable to yourself. That list you’re holding when viewing a home might help you stay grounded when a gourmet kitchen tempts you to give up on that third bedroom!
Now you’ll want to consider your ideal neighbourhood
You’ve got your wants and needs list all sorted out, now it’s time to decide on neighbourhoods that are yesses, maybes and definitely nots. If the house has absolutely everything on your list but it is in that neighbourhood you hate driving through when the sun goes down, chances are it is not going to be the right fit for you. Add a “neighbourhoods” section to your physical list and include areas that you won’t bother exploring. This will help you stay focused and save you time and heartache too.
And all things flexible
When you’re thinking about the deal breakers, take note of the things you’re flexible on as well. Not everyone goes into the buying process with a clear-cut understanding of their wants and needs. Some people place more value in the home itself than on other aspects of their life like travel time to work. If you’re willing to find a new job for your dream house in a new location, or to ditch public transit and buy a car to be able to commute from a more remote area, these are important things to keep in mind and commit to paper too. You might find writing out what you’re flexible on will help you define your limits and better understand your end goal.
Keep in mind that your house should support how you live
If you buy a home with a sprawling yard but you and your partner work long hours, you’ll either have to cram your weekends with yard work or pay someone to look after it for you. If a lengthy commute to work interferes with your kids’ after-school schedules, you’ll soon be run ragged trying to get everywhere you need to be. Really try to avoid thinking that the house is going to create a new, idyllic lifestyle for you and your family. While a house might be stunning, it needs to be the hub for your daily routines if you’re going to be comfortable living there.
Everything boils down to preparation
Knowing what you want in your next home and sticking to the plan is the best way to make your house-hunting easy, efficient and fun. Some self-evaluation and preparation will help you avoid serious buyer’s remorse and will keep you moving towards your goal. So, the next time you’re searching in an area you know you wouldn’t live in, refer to the list!