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Guide to Buying a New Home

USCG house in Alameda

Is an older home a better value than a new one?

There isn't a definitive answer to this question. You should look at each home for its individual characteristics. Generally, older homes may be in more established neighborhoods, offer more ambiance, and have lower property tax rates. However, people who buy older homes shouldn't mind maintaining their home and making some repairs. Newer homes tend to use more modern architecture and systems, are usually easier to maintain, and may be more energy-efficient.

What should I look for when walking through a home?

• Do you see yourself living in this home today and for the foreseeable future?
• Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms?
• Is the house structurally sound?
• Do the mechanical systems and appliances work?
• Is the yard big enough?
• Do you like the floor plan?
• Will your furniture fit in the space? Is there enough storage space? (Bring a tape measure to better answer these questions.)
• Does anything need to repaired or replaced? Will the seller repair or replace the items?
• Imagine the house in good weather and bad, and in each season. Will you be happy with it year-round?

Take your time and think carefully about each house you see. Ask your real estate agent to point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint.

What questions should I ask when looking at homes?

Many of your questions should focus on potential problems and maintenance issues. Does anything need to be replaced? What things require ongoing maintenance (e.g., paint, roof, HVAC, appliances, carpet)? Also ask about the house and neighborhood, focusing on quality of life issues. Be sure the seller's or real estate agent's answers are clear and complete. Ask questions until you understand all of the information they've given. Making a list of questions ahead of time will help you organize your thoughts and arrange all of the information you receive.

How can I keep track of all the homes I see?

If possible, take photographs of each house: the outside, the major rooms, the yard, and extra features that you like or ones you see as potential problems. And don't hesitate to return for a second look.

How many homes should I consider before choosing one?

There aren’t a set number of houses you should see before you decide. Visit as many as it takes to find the one you want. On average, home buyers see 15 houses before choosing one. Just be sure to communicate often with your real estate agent about everything you're looking for. It will help avoid wasting your time.

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