Oct. 9, 2009

Be a Better Buyer

So you've been driving around looking at houses, that's usually how it starts.  Go to this neighborhood or that one, Fairhaven, Columbia, Sunnyland (we all want to be within walking distance to Trader Joes!).  We love the craftsman, or so I think! or maybe new construction fits you better.  Whatever your style or budget ,  be you a first time home buyer or a homeowner looking to upgrade or downsize for that matter,  here are just a few tips on how to find that home that you've always wanted in a reasonable amount of time without having to look at close to a hundred homes.

SPEAK TO YOUR LENDER, very important.  VERY IMPORTANT.   imgname-banks_trouble_ahead-50226711-bankerThe first step when considering buying a home or any property for that matter is knowing what your will budget allow.  This will make the entire process much easier, less stressful for you, productive; it will narrow down all the possibilities and keep the house hunting realistic.

For the couples out there,  decide what it is you BOTH want before heading out the door and putting many miles on the car and investing many hours chasing after every property out there.  It's also not a good idea to have those power struggles whilst traveling between showings, for  your Realtor nor the sellers selling their homes need to hear your debates.  It's one thing to debate about what style, size, color of home you both want, it's quite another to not know which type of property you want , i.e.   investment, residential, or commercial.   I guess the easiest resolve for this is to ask yourselves...what do we need more, rental income or a roof over our heads.  But then again, maybe you can afford both.

Know what your needs are. Notice I stressed needs over wants because we all have basic needs;  running water, indoor plumbing, electricity for the refrigerator oh, and ok,  I guess lighting is convenient, power for heating is also nice especially with our chilly nights.  rustic_cabin4
Below are just a few other needs that you may have:

  • Home Office - Do you work out of your home, have a home based business that would require a home office or possibly a shop?
  • Children/Pets- If you have children or pets, maybe a fenced yard is high on your list.  Another thought if you have children, schools.  Do your homework and find which district you would like your children to be educated in.  For example, Columbia elementary, or the Sehome school district are high on parents list.
  • Health - Health issues can play a part as well, say if you have allergies, you may not want carpeting. Or if you have a physical disability or knee problems, stairs may be out.
  • Commute - Distance to your job -  maybe you've gone green so you'd rather bike or bus it to work.  So finding a home in close proximity to your work is essential.
  • Noise, are you bothered by it or not too big on your list?  Airplanes flying overhead, the freeway running behind your backyard.  The sound of a trains whistle ( I love that sound, actually).
  • Garage - Our autos play such a big part in our life so do you want coverage for it? Or maybe room for the car plus storage??

These are just a few items to consider when thinking about what you will need from your home.

Wants.  We all have them, but are they realistic for you right now?  Again, the first thing to think about is budget.

  • Maybe you love to cook but is that gourmet kitchen with marble countertops and Wolf Range in the budget?  or the luxury bath with a rainshower and jacuzzi tub and heated towel bar??
  • You have a passion for older Victorian or  Craftsman homes... keep in mind that these are highly detailed homes that require a lot of upkeep.  They have wood flooring, gingerbread trim,  a lot of wood paneling and crown molding that requires refinishing and staining.  What about the electrical and plumbing and sewer lines in older homes?  Has it all been upgraded?   You want to be sure that #1 it is safe and #2 that it is functional.  Believe me, they are wonderful pieces of art and architecture to be cherished and also well taken care of, but that comes at a cost which is both financial and time-consuming.
  • You want to have your home built-  Things to consider are the land ( raw or improved), cost of materials, contractors or building yourself, distance to town or maybe you want to be as far away as possible.  Lots to think about here.
  • Woodstove -  Speaking of chilly nights a second source of heat is a good idea in our community with the North Easterly winds ablowin'.  If you can find a home with a  woodstove or fireplace, it's great to have for those occasions when the power goes out, a  back-up heat source, not to mention the aroma and sound of the cracklin' wood. Very romantic!   I know there is a lot of controversy over wood fireplaces because of the build up of creosote, so be sure to have the chimney inspected by a Certified Chimney Sweep and cleaned on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that no home is perfect.  From new construction to an older home in need of upgrades or repairs,  it will lack something but, if it has almost everything that you are looking for, location, size, price, floor plan, you can always add to the house and put your signature on it.

Buyer Representation - Find a REALTOR® who will represent you and your best interests.  There was a time not too long ago when Realtors were hired specifically to help the seller. The seller benefited from all the representation and the buyer was really on his own.  That is why we now have seller disclosures and buyer agency agreements.  I suppose that is also where the words  "Buyer Beware" come into play.  You want and need to be fully represented by someone  who can think objectively and to repeat myself, has your best interest at heart.

I hope you find this helpful and beneficial.    My point to you as a buyer is to think about the process and what is and is not important to you, in hopes of making this an easy purchase.  Obviously, there are many things to consider when purchasing property and it is a good idea to make a checklist for yourself with your needs and wants.   Once you have this, you are ready to get an outside opinion or service from a Professional who knows and understands the real estate market.  If you are considering selling or purchasing and are tired of driving around in circles, please contact me, Roberta Soares, REALTOR® at EXP Realty, 360-303-3898.

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