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How to Choose a Home

December 15, 2009

How to Choose a Home

Searching for the perfect home can be overwhelming. To avoid wasting time looking at homes that aren’t right for your family, first set aside time to prepare a “wish list”. You’ll want to determine what you want and need in a home and categorize these items accordingly so your agent can focus on what’s most important to you. If you and your real estate agent have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, you’ll spend a lot less time visiting houses that don’t appeal to you.

When narrowing down your home search, consider the following:

  • know what types of home you want to buy
  • determine what age and condition of the house you want to buy
  • consider resale potential
  • use a features wish list to keep focused
  • use a home search comparison chart to keep organized
  • act decisively when you find the right home

Determine What Type of Home You Want to Buy

There are several forms of home ownership: single-family homes, multiple-family homes, condominiums and co-ops.

Single-family homes: One home per lot.

Multiple-family homes: Some buyers, particularly first-timers, start with multiple-family dwellings, so they’ll have rental income to help with their costs. Many mortgage plans, including VA and FHA loans, can be used for buildings with up to four units, if the buyer intends to occupy one of them.

Condominiums: With a condo, you own “from the plaster in.” You also own a certain percentage of the “common areas” – staircases, sidewalks, roofs, etc. Monthly charges, also known as “Condo Dues” pay your share of taxes and insurance on those elements, as well as repairs and maintenance. A homeowner’s association administers the development. See our blog on condo vs. home for more information on this topic.

Co-ops: Though rare to Columbus, in some cities such as New York and Chicago, cooperative apartments are common. With co-ops, you purchase shares in a corporation that owns the entire building, and you receive a lease to your own unit. A board of directors, comprised of owners and elected by owners, supervises the building management. Monthly charges include your share of an overall mortgage on the building.

Decide What Age and Condition of Home You Want to Purchase

Weigh your needs, budget and personal tastes in deciding whether you want to buy a newly constructed home, an older home or a “fixer-upper” that requires some work.

Consider Resale Potential

As you look at homes, you may want to keep in mind these resale considerations.

  • One-bedroom condos are much more difficult to resell than units offerings two or more bedrooms.
  • Two-bedroom/one-bath single houses generally have less appeal than houses with three or more bedrooms, and therefore have less appreciation potential.
  • Homes with “curb appeal,” i.e. well-maintained, attractive and with a charming appearance from the street, are the easiest to resell.
  • It’s usually not a good idea to buy the most expensive home in the neighborhood or an unusual home as these are often difficult to resell and thus do not represent good investments.
  • Use a Features Wish List to Keep Your Search Focused

Use a Features Wish List to Keep Your Search Focused 

Make a features wish list to clarify which features are most and least important to you when looking for a home. Using this features wish list will keep your house hunt focused and effective.

Act Decisively When You Find the Right Home

Before you begin the home buying process, resolve to act promptly when you do find the right house. Every REALTOR® has stories to tell about a couple who looked far and wide for their dream home, finally found it, and then decided to sleep on it, only to find someone else came in that evening with an offer that was accepted.

Resolve that you will act decisively when you find the house that’s clearly right for you. This is particularly important after a long search or if the house is newly listed and/or underpriced.

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