Preparing to Search For Your Dream Home

Whether you’re looking for your first house, a vacation home, or a retirement condo, there’s always an element of excitement in finding a new place you can call your own!

Although buying and selling real estate can be stressful, especially if you’ve never done it before, being prepared and knowing what to expect can help keep things on an even keel.

Similar to planning a vacation or a cross-country trip, you’ll want to avoid missed connections, frustrating delays, and wasted time. When it comes to buying a home, a little research, planning, and expert advice can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth journey. Here are a few specifics:

Check your credit score: Your credit rating has a major impact on your ability to successfully apply for a mortgage and be offered a relatively low interest rate. Knowing your credit rating can help you understand your options, avoid unexpected surprises, and take action to correct errors in your credit report or improve your credit profile.

Prepare a wish list: One of the keys to getting what you want in a new home is to clarify and prioritize the features that matter the most to you. Your checklist can include everything from lot size and architectural style to the reputation of the school district and proximity to stores. Some house hunters also place a high value on features like a fireplace, screened-in porch, and an open floor plan.

Find a good real estate agent: A buyers’ agent can provide you with an immense amount of help in finding properties for sale that meet your specifications. They can also provide assistance, advice, and guidance on the many steps involved in going from loan applicant to new home owner. An experienced agent can also negotiate the best possible deal, in terms of price, seller concessions, and other advantages.

Meet with mortgage lenders: A crucial step in preparing to become a homeowner is understanding the mortgage application process, knowing how much banks would be willing to lend you, and determining an affordable price range. Meeting with lenders is also the first step to comparing interest rates and choosing a financial institution that would best suit your needs. Here’s a helpful tip from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: “Getting a preapproval letter helps you show sellers that you are a serious buyer – but it doesn’t commit you to a lender.”

When it comes to searching for and buying a house, probably the best advice anyone could give you is “stay the course!” Let’s face it: It’s easy to give up, get discouraged, or settle for a home that’s less than what you really want. However, when you adopt a “stay the course” mindset, you’ll do a better job of staying motivated, focused, and well organized until you find just the right home for you, your family, and your future!

Making The Transition From Renter to Homeowner

If you’re an apartment renter ready to take the plunge into home ownership, there are a lot of reasons to be excited! Owning your own home does bring with it additional work and responsibilities, but the feeling of pride that accompanies it makes it all worthwhile!

Once you get used to the idea that “the buck stops here” and that there’s no landlord to handle repairs and maintenance any more, it won’t take long to get into the rhythm of being an established property owner. Here are a few tips to help ensure that your first experience with home ownership is a satisfying one.

  • Get a good real estate agent. A real estate professional can provide you with valuable guidance, advice, and information about houses you’re considering in your desired neighborhoods and price ranges. A buyers’ agent can help you avoid many of the potential pitfalls of buying your first home and help you stay within budget. They’ll assist you in clarifying your priorities and work on your behalf to find homes that meet your requirements. A service-oriented agent will not only point out the positive aspects of houses you’re considering, but they’ll also discuss ideas for adapting the home to your specific needs and lifestyle.
  • Hire an experienced property inspector. A seasoned home inspector can take a close look at the condition of the house and property you’re considering and help make sure there are no major structural defects, safety issues, or operational problems with the home’s systems and components. Although every property inspector approaches their job a little differently, their inspection service should include everything from the roof and foundation to the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. They may also report to you on the condition of the home’s insulation, its exterior, and any existing or potential drainage problems on the property. Certain aspects of the house may be excluded from the inspection if it’s difficult or unsafe to gain access to them. A top-notch home inspector can also provide useful insights into repairs that need to be made on the house. As a side note, professional property inspectors are often members of The American Society of Home Inspectors and follow the organization’s Standards of Practice.
  • Visit a lot of different houses for sale before making a final decision. It also pays to have a checklist with you to keep track of how each house stacks up to your requirements and expectations.

While your emotions will invariably play a role in your final choice, many other factors should also be taken into account, including the character of the neighborhood, proximity to conveniences and shopping, and the quality of the school district. Your real estate agent and/or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can provide you with a handy checklist for evaluating and comparing homes for sale.

Common Allergens in Your Home

Allergens can be annoying, even frustrating if you are unable to detect the cause of an allergic trigger in your home. Outdoor allergies are typical, but when these allergens come close to your personal space, it becomes a concern.

Even though experts have discovered many allergens commonly found hanging in the home, there are still measures which you need to take to further protect yourself from them. The number one spot to look is the grill. The grill harbors lots of substances, which can lead to watery eyes, runny, and stuffy nose. Here are more allergens commonly found in the home and how you can quickly fix them.

Cockroaches 

Cockroaches are huge allergens and can trigger an uproar in your body system if exposed to them. They can be anywhere, no matter whether the home is dirty or clean. Both dead and live cockroaches are potential threats and the dirt and waste they leave behind can cause allergic reactions.

Dust Mites

If you are allergic to dust, blame it on some microscopic organisms called the dust mites. According to medical experts, they feed off our dead skins cells. Most found in places like your bedding and upholstered furniture. The solution is to make sure you eliminate dust the best way possible. Similar to cockroaches, they can die, thereby leaving the waste behind. The best action in other to get rid of these allergic triggers.

Dander from animals (Dog, Cat, Mice, etc.)

For pet owners, you might be allergic to your pet’s dander without even knowing. If you are always having nasal congestion, sneezing or itching eyes, then you will need to find out if you are allergic to animal dander, like the furs.

If the pet is new, it might take a while for your system to adjust. If you are allergic to a pet, the solution is not to give the pets up because they are part of the family. What you need to do is designate certain areas of the house to them, as a pet-free zone.

Pollen

It is an outdoor allergen, but it can still enter the home through unlikely means. Most clothes you wear outside can be contaminated with pollen, taking them inside and dropping them on the sofa will only spread the pollen around. 

The solution is to make sure that clothes used for play or yard work outside do not end up on your bed or furniture. Perhaps, an indoor laundry room would be the best solution to tackle this common allergen.

There are so many allergens in the home that can mess up your health. Getting to know them and bringing a stop to them will ensure a home free of such triggers. Are you yet to discover them in your home? Now is the time.

A Re-Sale with a View

When you plan to stay in your new home for years to come, you can buy just for yourself and ignore things that would otherwise make reselling the property difficult. However, if you know this home will be back on the market in a few years, you need to check different boxes on that list. Do you know you’ll have to move on a tight schedule for work? That makes minding the view even more important.

A Room with a View (that you hate)

Not all homesites have the future view in mind and even those that do risk ruin by city planners adding new infrastructure to your area or new businesses opening. Here’s what to avoid:

  • Railroad Tracks: Number one on many buyers “do not want” list, railroad tracks can be a huge barrier to a quick sale. Any train tracks with noisy, consistent business can be irritating to home buyers and reduce the draw for your home. If the property is walking distance from a local station with city access, however, use the local public transportation as a selling point to bring in new potential buyers. 
  • Water Towers and Wind Turbines: Unavoidable in most areas, especially those headed for greener energy or where water is scarce, the goal here is merely to avoid direct window views. If you notice one of these tall local structures blocking the homes’ views, finding the house with a different perspective could be the key to your super-fast sale.
  • Power Lines: Electrical lines distract from the view similarly to wind turbines. However, there’s a more sinister problem here. Many people believe that power lines emit a kind of radiation that causes health problems. Even though the American Cancer Society says that power lines emit only ELF (extremely low frequency) radiation which shouldn’t cause health problems, just the belief in society can drag out your sale timeline or lower the price. 
  • Shops and Restaurants: The goal here is to be careful what businesses are nearby. Visit the property at different times of day to determine how much noise is generated by the nearby restaurants and what kinds of lights or signs might impact your view and living situation. Imposing privacy walls between your home and local businesses don’t necessarily help since that can ruin the entire view without actually blocking the noise.

When you’re looking at homes to purchase, make sure you check them out at a variety of times of the day. When possible, check the view from every window, both in the dark and during the day. Also, make sure you review the location on weekdays and weekends alike since the activity level of neighborhoods and businesses can change drastically.

I already bought it, what now?

Just because you didn’t consider the view when you purchased the property—or if the view has changed over the years—doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You can adjust the landscape to your advantage, planting trees to add greenery while blocking a regrettable view. Be careful with power lines and trees though, planting trees that will cross over powerlines can increase maintenance costs on the property and could get you into trouble with the city or utility provider. You can even offset the sounds railroad tracks and local businesses by swapping out your windows with ones that are more sound-insulating. Or try investing in sound-proofing paints which have the added benefit of being more temperature insulating as well.

Let your real estate professional know if you plan to resell the home on a tight schedule so they can help you find the best resale property in your market.