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Home Buying 101

 
 
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Buying a home is a life-changing undertaking. It involves your emotions, intellect, health, stage in life, finances, and influences from family, friends and/or your job. You live daily with the consequences of purchasing real estate. The following ideas inject some objectivity into the very subjective task of purchasing a home.

Weighing Positives and Negatives

Make charts or lists rating important factors in purchasing a home. Agree on topics each spouse or partner thinks is important, but fill out the lists individually before getting together to compare them. All topics should be on the table. After each topic make columns such as "Less important," "Nice, but not crucial," and "Must have."

  1. Price ranges: List your low, medium, and top limits.
  2. Type of home: Mobile, duplex, townhouse, condo, separate home
  3. Square footage desired
  4. Number of stories
  5. Number of bedrooms
  6. Number of bathrooms
  7. Garage size
  8. Age of home
  9. Condition of home: Fixer-upper, good condition, fairly new
  10. Septic or sewer: Verify condition
  11. Acceptable commute time
  12. Distance to schools
  13. Quality of schools
  14. Bus service to schools
  15. Public transportation
  16. Distance to health care
  17. Tolerance for neighborhood noise level
  18. Street lighting
  19. Yard size
  20. Yard condition: Poor, okay, quite good
  21. Quality of home compared to neighbors: Less, the same, better. For resale you don't want the best house in the neighborhood.
  22. Kitchen condition: Poor, okay for now, quite good
  23. Flooring: List types of rooms separately, and choose hard surface or carpet for each.
  24. Lighting and electrical condition: Poor, okay for now, fairly new
  25. Plumbing fixtures: Poor, okay for now, fairly new
  26. Energy efficiency: Request previous year's energy bills. Are walls and attic insulated? How well?
  27. Doors, windows, weatherstripping: Poor, okay, new
  28. Preferred heating/cooling type
  29. Fireplace preference: Don't want, want, already exists
  30. Fireplace type preferred: Traditional wood-burning, efficient wood-burning, pellet, gas
  31. Existing roof condition: Poor, okay for now, fairly new
  32. Preferred roof type: Shake, shingle, tile, metal
  33. Pests, dry rot: Insist on inspection
  34. Septic or sewer: Verify condition

Think of other topics related to buying a home. Compare your responses and agree on priorities. When you're seriously interested in a home, get estimates for repairs, replacement, or additions. Use these costs as a bargaining point when negotiating your price offer. For contractors who can provide an estimate, fill in contact info on this site. Happy home hunting!