Six Tips for Setting Your Home Buying Criteria

A Home Buying Checklist

As a first-time home buyer, I want to make sure I find the right home. I’ve realized that determining my criteria is an important first step. If you plan to buy soon, follow these home buying checklist to set your criteria and steer your search to the right homes for you.

There’s no sense wasting time on the wrong houses once you start to look in earnest.

Some Tips to set up your checklist for Buying a House

1. Visit Open Houses

Home buying checklist number 1. Open House (Board sign)Start going to open houses in your area. Condos, townhomes, houses, it doesn’t really matter. You also shouldn’t worry about price. The most important thing is to look. See what trends are appearing. How big or small are the rooms? How are the kitchens? What’s the storage like? etc. Make a note of them for the future. You should also try different neighborhoods to see which feels most like home to you.

2. Don’t Worry about Cosmetics most buyers list don’t have this.

So don’t worry about carpeting, wall colors, or cabinetry during the home buying process. All of that can be replaced. Look at things that are harder to change like room size, kitchen layout, number of closets, bathrooms, rooms, etc.

3. Determine the Number of Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Start by figuring out how many rooms you need now. For example, my husband and I need at least two bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms. We’re looking at three bedrooms because we plan to stay in our first home at least 5-7 years.

If a baby arrives, we don’t want to try to squeeze all of us and an office and a guest bed into two rooms.

4. Set a Price Range

Now that you have a sense of the possibilities, it’s time to start using home affordability calculators. Talking to a mortgage broker to figure out what you can really afford can help you with your buyer checklist as well. Knowing your number will help you determine how demanding you can be in the next stages of the home buying process.

5. Determine the Neighborhoods You Like

The neighborhood really does have an effect on how much you enjoy your home. So figure out what you need in a neighborhood. Are schools important or do you like to be able to walk places or grocery store?

I know that I would hate living anywhere with a long drive to the conveniences. Fortunately, I live in Los Angeles, where most neighborhoods are pretty walkable as long as you just want to buy a couple items at the store.

Find the walk score for a prospective neighborhood if that’s important to you. Find school scores if that’s important to you. Use Google to search the zip code for other elements that matter to you.

Commuting is a whole story. The home buying rule used to be that you drove until you could afford it. Now that’s just crazy. Since home prices are re-entering the stratosphere, take your commute into account.

6. List Your Deal Breakers and Nice-to-Haves

So now you have this long list of buyer checklist that is important to you. Figure out which are deal-breakers and which are just nice-to-haves.

Early in the open house process, my husband and I realized that two things are deal-breakers for us: kitchen size and laundry hook-ups. We haven’t decided between a condo and a house yet, but I will not buy a home that doesn’t have an in-unit laundry hook-up.

I also won’t buy a home with a poorly laid out kitchen and no kitchen storage. Now I can walk into a place and know within three minutes whether or not it meets the two basic criteria. In fact, I will tell the real estate agent not to bother showing us places without laundry hook-ups.

If you think this will take too much time, don’t worry. There’s no need to rush the home buying process these days. That’s why you also created this Home buying checklist to help you decide. And unless you spend the next four years looking, you won’t miss the market bottom.

Markets don’t rebound like a basketball. Instead, they hit the ground and roll for a while like a semi-inflated basketball.

The most important part is that you find the right home for you, in the right neighborhood, and at the right price. Otherwise, you’ll just have to start the process over again in a few years. Home buying checklist can be very confusing for some, as there are a lot of things to consider ut once you’re done with that. It’ll be easy peasy searching for your dream house,

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