How to Ask the Right Questions.
First-time-home-buyers often decide they’re ready to make the plunge and start their journey by browsing local and online listings that match a few loose guidelines. Don’t get us wrong, it’s very easy to get caught up in the details without sitting back to consider goals larger than curb appeal, pantry space, and the quality of the school district. Buying a home can be a complicated endeavor, and jumping in early without clearly defining the life you wish to build can potentially lead to a costly mistake. Reminding yourself of what you hope to achieve in the future will help you make the best decisions later—especially when you might get blinded by the granite backsplash or backyard swim spa. Let us help you ask the right questions so you, and your Realtor, have a clear vision of how you plan to build your life—and how a new home fits into that plan.
Why do I want to buy?
Purchasing a home is a lifestyle change that requires you to think critically about the type of community you wish to live in and how you like to spend your time. We recommend that first-time-home-buyers be stable in their career and willing to commit to a permanent residence for five to seven years. Take some time to think about your top reasons to stop renting and start house shopping.
- Do you need an upgrade—maybe more space and a nicer neighborhood?
- Looking to be closer to family—or maybe further away?
- Relocating for work or looking to put down roots?
- Looking for a better school district?
What is my ideal neighborhood?
Often, first-time-home-buyers focus far too much on the house and not enough on the neighborhood. Before you nail down your home priorities, let’s try and tackle some neighborhood ones.
- Are there parks within walking distance?
- What about local shops and restaurants close by?
- Are you looking for quiet and peaceful or social and bustling?
- Is the neighborhood older and established or up and coming?
When do I want to move?
We suggest first-time-home-buyers give themselves six months to a year for the entire process. For a detailed timeline of the process and what should be done at six months, three months, two months, and once you’ve found a home, check out The Buyer’s Timeline. How soon do you want to move? Six months from now? Three months?
What does my future home need?
It’s time to start thinking about home features. Ask yourself questions, such as: Why do I want to buy a house? What is my ideal neighborhood? What features do I absolutely need and what can I live without? We’ve created a simple worksheet to really try and understand what you’re looking for in a home and what can wait.
Let the hunt begin
Now that you’ve clearly identified your priorities, it’s time for the part we all enjoy—browsing and collecting some listings! At this point the goal is more about getting inspired than finding your perfect home. Look for houses that fit within the parameters you’ve setup and are realistically within your expected budget. However, don’t be too concerned about money just yet—we’ll certainly refine your search based on what you can afford later. Right now, let’s just build a list of homes that speak to you, one way or another. It’s helpful down the road to create a simple spreadsheet with the house’s address, a link to the listing, the price, and when it went on the market. Most importantly, try to concisely articulate the reasons you’re adding the house to your list in the final column. This process helps start the conversation with a Realtor to gradually cull and add to the list, as budgets are set and new homes are found.