Buying a new house can potentially become one of the most frustrating experiences you will ever undergo. So many pitfalls and problems and obstacles. One way we found to make buying a house easier is to learn from those who made the trip before us.
If you don’t have access to people who have made mistakes buying houses, then learn from me who has learned from others. You can’t avoid all of the issues that raise stress levels during the home buying process, but you can reduce the likelihood of them occurring.
In addition, you can reduce the likelihood for adding on to those problems later by making unwise decisions now. A little common sense plus self control can equal future happiness.
Consider the Resell Consequences
When buying a house, especially your first, you may get so excited over the prospect of moving away from the rental merry-go-round or moving out of your parents’ house or leaving roommates behind that you will do just about anything to get into a new place.
After three years on a rental merry go round that took us to three different apartments over the course of three years and a landlord that, for reasons would be obvious at first, we nicknamed Sammi the Hutt, the idea of ownership was enough to lather our mouths wit anticipatory drool.
At all times, even if you think you will be living there until you die, consider the potential for reselling the house down the line. The elements involved in increasing or decreasing the potential for easy resell varies considerably and some of those things won’t be obvious at the period you are buying.
Things to keep in mind are proximity to schools, stores and commuting choices. Our first house put us more than five miles away from the nearest grocery store and if you think that doesn’t sound like much then you’ve never lived more than five miles from the nearest grocery store!
Don’t be afraid to make a judgment call on neighbors; if the neighbors make you a little wary, then they are likely to make others wary. The important thing is to consider the entire neighborhood and not just the house or property itself.
Try to play Nostradamus and picture how the surrounding area is going to look twenty years from now. Are you in a growth area or is there the potential to sell the house as being in quiet area years from now?
Above all else you want to do this so that you can take the time for meditation that will keep you from making any snap judgments based on immediate need.
Consider Size Carefully
One of the most common mistakes that people make when buying a house that results in problems after the purchase is going for a home that is either too small or too large. If it’s just you and the wife and you have no plans for kids, you probably don’t need to get that four bedroom McMansion.
The first house we bought was done so on the expectation of not becoming parents. Let me put it this way: our kids would still be sleeping in the same bedroom with us if we’d kept that house after taking a 180 on the parental issue.
Just because you aren’t currently planning for a family doesn’t mean it won’t come along. Better to have too much space in case you need it than the other way around that you.
This issue really becomes a problem when you are so taken with an extremely nice house that you let the size of it completely escape you. Big houses are always a lure and while having plenty of space can be a blessing, enormous power bills and extra time needed for housekeeping and potential for difficulty in unloading it in the future are not.
Think about your immediate needs for space but plan for future growth, whether that means having biological kids, adopting kids or having to take care of an aging parent.
Be Reasonable With Expectations
Wanna know a secret? My hometown is the oldest in America and features an expansive neighborhood of incredible Victorian homes built in the 1800s around the turn of the 20th century that represent some of the most beautiful pieces of architecture you can find.
But every single person I know who has the money to buy one of these houses doesn’t have enough money to stop them from complaining about how the maintenance costs are more than what the maintenance costs would be for a house built around the turn of the 21st century that is twice as big as the Victorian.
Old houses have old problems. That’s an inescapable fact. Get to know the house you are looking at and consider the kinds of problems you may face.
Unreasonable expectations are no reason to turn down a perfectly nice house. Unreasonable expectations are much more likely to come into play if you think the price is a great bargain. Houses do not sell at bargain prices unless they also come with problems.
It is up to you to determine what a reasonable exchange rate is between problems and price. On the other hand, don’t head into a brand new house expecting that is everything is going to be perfect.
Even recently built homes are going to have their problems and the better you understand this, the easier it will be to knock down the quite unreasonable expectation of perfection.
When it comes to real estate everything is supposed to boil down thusly: location, location, location. Location is extremely important, no question, but another thing to keep in mind is timing.
The housing market fluctuates and that means a house you would pay $125,000 for today might very well be bought for $105,00 a year from now.
Equally true is the chance that it will cost $135,000. Timing when it comes to buying a house is very often out of your control: if you want to escape your lease it means getting a place to live within a constricted time frame.
Timing can also include moving to a new city. Timing may be completely out of your control, but if you do have some control, it pays to do your research.
If prices are at a high and you can put the purchase off for a year, consult with a financial expert who can give you an informed opinion about where the market might be headed by then. Just keep in mind that it will only be an opinion.
Nevertheless, historical data on fluctuations in the housing market can be useful in helping you to learn from history enough to maybe save a few thousand dollars simply for exercising patience.