Getting ready to buy a house?

    When you begin the process of looking for a house, there are many things to keep in mind. Because it can be a daunting process, here is a compilation of tips to help you in the process:

    Make sure you know how much you can afford before you begin your search, and again before you make an offer. You should have two numbers: how much you’d like to spend and the absolute most you can afford to spend. This is much easier if you get pre-approved for a mortgage so you know in advance exactly what kind of money have to work with.

    And while a Realtor can help to show you homes within your parameters, it’s finding the one that’s right for you that is the real work. You should know how you want to use a home before you buy it. Sit down (either with whomever you will be buying the home with or by yourself) and figure out what you need a house to do for you. If you need space for a growing family, if you prefer a larger kitchen and are willing to sacrifice a dining room to have one, etc.

    You should also work on making two lists: Must-have features and bonus features. As with any big decision, it’s important to know exactly what you want beforehand. Consider factors such as children (whether you have them or are planning on it), pets, occupations, and activities you enjoy. If you work from home, and office may be essential. If you’re an avid reader, built-in bookshelves might be high on your bonus features list. Consider some of the following things:

    1. What kind of neighborhood do you want to live in? Do you prefer neighbors who keep to themselves or more of a sense of community?
    2. Do you need to be close to your place or work, or would you rather be removed from the main part of town? Are there good schools in the area? Have you done a check for sex offenders in the area? How close is the nearest grocery store, drug store, gas station, or any other conveniences you rely on daily?
    3. Are you looking for a house with nice outdoor spaces? A lush lawn? A big backyard and maybe even a pool? Don’t forget about your outside space needs. Consider storage, such as sheds, barns, garages, etc.
    4. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you absolutely need? How many would be ideal? Do you need an extra room to set up an in-home studio, a guest room because you host visitors often, a playroom for your children, or any other reason?
    5. What kind of storage needs do you have? Do you need lots of indoor storage space in the form of cabinets and closets, or will you store most of your things in standalone pieces, storage units, the garage, the attic, or somewhere else? Make sure you look for these features when touring a house.

    Know ahead of time what things you’ll be willing to work on, renovate, fix and spruce up. If you hate remodeling bathrooms, make sure you can live with the ones the house has for at least 10 years. Your new home should match your style somewhat while keeping in mind that there’s a lot you can change once you get in there. You should be familiar and comfortable with whatever degree of fixer-upper you’re willing to accept. Keeping that in mind, look at homes that don’t have structural issues but are in need of some cosmetic work.

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