When the last of the brightly colored leaves cling tightly to otherwise bare trees, you know that winter is coming. It’s a sad state of affairs, but happens every year, just like clockwork. The
Jul 29 2020 51020 1
Dated: July 29 2020
Whether you’re shopping for your first home or your fifth, it’s easy to overlook some key factors when you’re oohing and awing at pretty finishes or distracted by easy to change decor that isn’t quite your style. Here are the top factors to consider to make sure you choose a home that works well for you.
Start with the basics- how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need to have? How many would you like? Do you need additional space for work or guests? Do you need a bedroom and full bathroom on the first floor or can all be upstairs? Make a list of the basic needs that your new home must have, with a separate column for the wants as well. As you evaluate home listings, make sure each home meets the basics at least. If not, cross it off the list. No matter how many upgrades the seller has done, if the basic structure of the doesn’t work, the house likely won’t be a good fit.
While you should never begin house shopping until you’re pre-approved for a mortgage loan, there’s more to consider. Pre-approval shows how much you’re able to finance. Be sure to discuss what the monthly payment will be at various price points, up to your pre-approved amount, and determine what amount fits best into your budget. You do not have to spend the full pre-approved amount. Ask how much cash will be needed for closing as well. Also consider the savings you’ll have left for improvements and updates. Be sure to keep some savings for repairs and emergencies, too.
If you’re looking at houses that need a little work, make sure you have the funds for renovations unless you’re ok living with the dated decor while you’re saving. Even if you’re willing to do some repairs after closing, your loan type might have some property condition standards. There are 2 pieces to loan approval- approval of the buyer (you), and approval of the property. Most government-insured loans like FHA and VA will require the home to be in a livable, safe condition. These requirements might vary by location and bank, but don’t expect to use a government-insured loan to purchase a home that needs a new roof, foundation adjustments, or major problems with plumbing or electrical systems. Some conventional loan programs may have requirements as well, though they tend to be a little more lenient. The appraisal will be the determining factor.
Be sure to get estimates from multiple contractors to be sure you’re prepared for the costs of repairs and updates in advance, and have extra funds set aside for the inevitable surprises that often pop up during a renovation. For example, removing old carpet can often result in damage to baseboards.
Most buyers have a general idea of where they want to live before they begin looking for a home. If not, or if you’re new to the area and most of your research was done elsewhere, be sure to drive through the communities at various times of day. Note the traffic, noise, and how many people are out and about. Talk to some potential new neighbors about each community. In addition, be sure to look up some other important details that might play a part in your decision, like crime rates, registered offenders, and school ratings. Some states (like Texas) limit Realtors from providing you with this information for liability purposes, but they can direct you to the information sources. Home prices will vary by community, so your budget will probably influence the location as well.
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Lauren is a lifetime North Texas resident and graduate from Texas Woman's University. She currently lives in Prosper and has been working in and around her community for the past six years, resulting ....
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