With 2017 almost over, you may be thinking that 2018 may be the time to move from being a renter in Richmond Virginia to being a homeowner! Buying a home can be incredibly exciting, but it can be incredibly stressful! There are so many questions - so many concerns! After all, this is a home you will most likely be in for the next 5 to 10 years! And, unlike renting, you can't just give a 60 day notice and move!
So, for many first time homebuyers that I work with, there are lots of questions! What is the right loan? What is the right neighborhood to move into? Is this the right house? What happens if I get buyer's remorse? How do you know you picked the right buyer's agent? Should you buy new construction or a resale? Should you live in the city or one of the counties? These - and many more questions - are ones that first time homebuyers ask over and over again!
But the one question that most buyers end up asking is - what should I be looking for in my first home? There are lots of things, but here are my top 7 things to look for in a home!
Everyone has heard the old adage - "location, location, location!" And in real estate, that is so so true! So when you are looking for that perfect first home, keep in mind the location! What makes a great neighborhood? Of course, appreciation rates are only one thing! It could be the feel of the neighborhood, it could be the schools, it could be how close to amenities such as the James River, it could be how walkable the neighborhood is, or even how close to work the neighborhood is! Remember, you will be living in this neighborhood for the next 5 to 10 years, so make sure this is a neighborhood you could love!
Size is important - not for just now, but for the future! Perhaps you are single and could live in a 3 bedroom, 1 bath home with only 1,000 SF! But if you get married and start to have kids, you may begin to outgrow the house! Keep in mind what you think your future plans are going to be!
Your first home will most likely not have all of your wants and needs on it! So be prepared to compromise! Are you willing to give up the granite counters in the kitchen in order to live closer to work? Are you willing to give up the garage in order to be in your dream neighborhood? Are you willing to give up a 4th bedroom and garage to get a large lot in a neighborhood with no HOA fee? You need to know what things you are willing to give up on in order to get a home you can see yourself in for the next 5 to 10 years!
HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATIONS!
Not everyone wants to be in a neighborhood with an HOA! There are pros and cons to living in such a neighborhood! There will be rules and regulations about what you can and can't do but normally that is to help protect the look and feel of the neighborhood. Some HOA's have very restrictive covenants & restrictions, others don't! Some HOA's have very high fees but will include some amenities, such as pools, playgrounds, walking trails, etc! When you begin to look, you will want to know whether or not you are willing to abide by the HOA rules, regulations, covenants & restrictions! If you have certain needs or desires (I once had a buyer who loved a house but hated the landscaping because it meant less grass for him to put a swingset in the back yard for his kids- but the HOA said that they could not take down any trees without the HOA's approval), let your Realtor know so that they can make sure that whatever those needs are can be accomodated!
Yes, you are probably going to have a home inspection done on any house you end up purchasing. But when you are looking at the home, take notice of how well the house has been taken care of by the current owners! Does the roof look crumbling to you? Is there rotted or moisture damaged siding? Are any of the windows fogged with broken seals? Is the HVAC filter dirty? Is any of the plumbing galvanized? These things will tell you how well the owner is taking care of the house! And if there are a lot of things that appear to have been less than well maintained, then there may be things you can't see that have also been less than well maintained! This can be used to help you with your negotiations with the seller!
A lot of Realtors, myself included, not bring in a stager to help put the home in the best show condition possible! And there are many buyers that will walk into a house and love the house because they love the staging! However, once you close on your new home, all that nice staging will be gone! There is a reason why builders will bring in designers to help them stage new construction models - people will fall in love with how the house looks! But try to look beyond the staging you see in the house! Can your couch fit into the living room? Will your king bed & 2 nightstands, dresser & chest of drawers fit into the master bedroom? Do you love the color of the carpets or the color of the walls? Know how YOUR lifestyle and furniture will fit into the house you are going to buy!
There are lots of great neighborhoods in the Richmond area - and many of them, especially in the city of Richmond are older neighborhoods, with homes that were built in the late 1800's to the mid 1900's! Older homes have lots of character - I lived in a home built in the early 1930's and loved it! No newer home had the character that my older home had! And the home was solid! So if you love older homes, great! But just remember, that older homes, no matter how well maintained they are, will have some higher maintenance costs that a newer home may not have! My house had a slate roof, which I loved and probably would never need to be replaced in my lifetime! But when a slate fell off the roof or had to be replaced, the cost to have this done by a roofer was much higher because not every roofer works on slate roofs! Likewise, when I needed to have a patch done to my plaster walls because it had gotten bad cracks in it, the cost to have it done was high because there are few good plasterers in the area! So when looking at homes, make sure you take into consideration how much maintenance you are willing to do after closing!
As you can see, there are lots of things to take into consideration when looking for your first home! Of course, making sure you have a great lender with good loan options available to first time home buyers is important, getting pre approved and knowing what you qualify for is important, having a good Buyers Agent on your side to help you navigate through the home buying process is also important! But after you have done all these things, you then have to figure out if a particular home is the right fit for you! Taking these 7 items into consideration will help to make sure that the home you buy is the one you will be happy in for the next 5 to 10 years!
If you are thinking of buying a home in 2018, and want to sit down and talk about the process, feel free to contact me & I would be happy to help! Here is to a great 2018!