If you’re ready to get down to business and start shopping for a home, then pay close attention to the tips and information contained in this article. Specifically, I’ll cover whether you should use a real estate agent or not, the various types of homes, and why you should have a house inspected before you sign on the dotted line. After reading this article, you’ll know the key elements for how to choose the right home to buy for you and your family.
Using a Real Estate Agent (or perhaps not)
Certainly, the most common approach to locating a new home is through the assistance of a real estate agent. Most people usually know someone who knows someone who is an agent. And if that isn’t the case, you can just as easily find one by going online and performing a search (e.g.,”real estate agent in north miami beach”).
The benefits of using a real estate agent include:
– Familiarity with the area and knowledge of available homes that might meet your criteria
– Access to the Multiple Listing System (MLS) which contains information about nearly every home that is being promoted by all other real estate agents and brokers.
– Knowledge of the school system, crime rates, and other information that may be important to you
– Willingness to drive you around to view homes, including access to interiors
– Researching comparable home values to help you make an offer to the seller
– Handling the paperwork and being the go between when offers and counteroffers are made
– Locating attorneys, appraisers, home inspectors and other professional involved with buying a home
– Attending the final closing meeting that will result in the home being transferred into your name
So, the bottom line is that a real estate agent is a great resource if you’re more comfortable having your hand held and certain tasks taken care of by someone else during the home buying process.
The seller will usually pay the real estate commission (usually 6% of the selling price), but sometimes buyer and seller will agree to split it. Of course, you don’t have to use a real estate agent if you’re comfortable with the process and have already identified the home you want to buy. All you would need to do is hire a real estate attorney or title company. They’ll take care of all the paperwork to make sure nothing is missed that might prevent a problem.
Choosing a Home Style
As you begin your search for a new home, you will find that you have many choices. The most traditional style or type of home is the one-story, single-family, detached building that usually comes with three bedrooms.
However, what each of us might call a home can come in all kinds of sizes, shapes, colors, and designs. For instance, there are condominiums, townhouses, two-story family homes, mobile homes, modular homes, manufactured homes, and more. So when it comes to how to choose the right home to buy, you should look at the pluses and minuses of each style to narrow your selection.
One-story single-family ranch home
– This is the most common style of home. It usually comes with a decent size yard for kids and pets to run around. In addition, the yard will probably be enclosed by a chain-linked or wooden fence for added privacy. No doubt, you’ll feel like you own something solid when you buy one of these homes.
The biggest potential downside is maintenance and upkeep. You’re either going to be pushing around a lawnmower on a frequent basis or shelling out a chunk of cash every month for a lawn service to keep your yard looking fresh and sharp. In winter, the maintenance requirement won’t stop. You’ll just be dealing with snow. Are you prepared for the ongoing upkeep?
Two-story single-family home
– If you have a growing family and need a more spacious home, then a detached two-story single family home is a popular choice. Just like it’s one-story counterpart, this style of home will come with a yard and all the associated upkeep issues. But there a couple of other potential issues associated with two-story homes. First, you and your family will be going up and down stairs. So this might not work if someone has health problems.
This could become especially difficult if it’s you or spouse and the master bedroom is located upstairs. Second, if the home is not a quality build, noise could become an irritating issue. I suspect you really don’t want to hear floor boards squeaking, people walking around, and the shower running upstairs while you’re entertaining downstairs. So give the prospective home a noise workout before you decide to buy.
– Condos come in several configurations. But the two most popular layouts are within tall high-rise buildings with underground parking or they look like apartment complexes where you park your car in front of the building. The great thing about condos is that you don’t have to worry about maintaining a yard.
And depending on where you live, some of the great amenities can include tennis courts, swimming pools, valet parking, security guards, restaurants, and more. Of course, all those niceties don’t come free, and most of the time they don’t come cheap. Condominium association fees can easily creep into many hundreds of dollars per month, and every year you can expect them to rise.
This expense alone can be significant enough to turn many people away from a particular property. In addition, living in a condo means that you’ll be sharing at least one wall with a neighbor, not to mention the people who will be living above and below you. So if the walls are thin, they’ll be able to hear everything happening in your space and vice versa.
Do you really want to share or hear every conversation or toilet flush? Finally, many condominiums come with just one or two bedrooms. Since most real estate buyers prefer at least 3 bedrooms, you could have a difficult time selling your condo, especially in a down market.
– A townhome has a ground level door/entrance just like a single family ranch home. However, it will usually be part of a set of other connected townhomes that share at least one wall. They can be a good compromise between a condominium and a single family home with a yard. You won’t have to deal with significant lawn maintenance issues, but there will probably be monthly homeowner association fees.
Mobile and manufactured homes
– These types of homes are a good choice if you have low to moderate income. You’ll find these homes set up in a variety of ways. For example, you might find a manufactured home situated on an acre of land. Or, a mobile home could be part of a mobile home park where your neighbors are anchored just a few feet away. Then again, you might find the set ups reversed.
The purpose of these homes is to provide decent quality shelter at an affordable price. The challenge you could face with mobile and manufactured homes is location. You may not find them near a desirable school district, for example. In addition, they are not the most spacious places for raising a growing family.
Getting a Home Inspection
It may cost a couple hundred dollars or a thousand dollars, but you should never buy a home without having it inspected. A professional home inspector is an independant person who will check the home inside and out to make sure you’re not buying a lemon. They will inspect things such as:
– Exterior and interior walls
– Heating & Cooling Unit
– Electrical outlets
Basically, they will evaluate everything related to the home’s structure and build that, if left alone, could cost you big money to repair in the near future. But keep in mind, the inspector may not examine the condition of appliances, swimming pools, and certain other non-structural amenities. So, make sure you get the home inspector’s checklist. And if there is something you want inspected that is not on the list, talk to your real estate agent or contact a professional that specializes in that area.
Of course, if the home inspector identifies a problem, this will give you an opportunity to either find another house, reduce your offer and handle the repairs yourself, or make an offer that is contingent on the repairs being done and approved by a certain date.
So now you know how to choose the right home to buy. If you don’t know how to get started or need help navigating the landscape, then use a real estate agent. But before you do, determine the style, layout, location, price range, and other requirements you want so that you don’t waste your time or the agent’s time. And when you think you’ve found the right property, make sure you have it inspected for problems before you buy.
If you do these three things, you and your family will spend many enjoyable years in a space and neighborhood that you’ll all love.
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