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Answer These Important Questions Before Buying a Home

couple looking at sketch of dream home

Post from MilitaryByOwner

Homeownership might be the quintessential American Dream, but a purchase of this magnitude can become a nightmare quickly if the buyer is unprepared. The home buying process is naturally fraught with questions and anxiety, especially for first timers, but the scenarios ahead contain a good cross section of information needed to begin the purchase transaction.

Am I familiar with the local real estate market?

The local real estate marketis much more than knowing how to search for available houses. Understanding pricing, taxation, and assessment of the property is all part of homeownership. Potential owners should be researching their desired neighborhoods months in advance to understand market trends and comparable home pricing. Professional real estate agents are savvy with these calculations and helpful with your search.

Will my homeowner’s insurance increase?

If you’ve rented until now, yes, your insurance will likely increase. Sufficient insurance coverage hinges on a wide range of factors, including everything from location of the property to the security and fire alarm installation. A complete and through conversation with your insurance provider about premiums will answer all of your questions.

Do I need private mortgage insurance?

PMI is regularly required by lenders to insure the payment of the mortgage each month. PMI protects the lender, but not the borrower. Most conventional loans require this type of insurance if the borrower does not have 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. A VA loan does not require PMI.

How much will utilities cost?

Start with the difference in climate. Will the temperature change from where you live currently? Some homes use oil to heat, which becomes very expensive in harsh winters. Older homes are also less efficient in maintaining cooler temperatures.

The size and style of a home are also contributors to utility cost increases or, hopefully, decreases. Larger square footage equals more space to heat. Upstairs bedrooms are notoriously difficult to cool unless the home has separate cooling systems.

Investigate if your home is designated for a well or city water source. Each will have its own pros and cons. Location is also a crucial component. Where water is harder to come by, such as in California, the higher the water bills will be.

Phone, internet, and cable providers vary from region to region, sometimes even from street to street. Contacting current residents will help decipher who has the best coverage for the most reasonable rates.

What maintenance will my new home require?

Upkeep will vary from the expensive tasks, such as repair or replacement for broken water tanks and HVAC systems, down to menial chores like changing light bulbs. In between lies the great middle area where exterior paint, landscaping, water-proofing basements, and much, much more reside.

First-time homeowners might be a bit surprised to realize the amount of maintenance a house requires. Knowing that it’s best to tackle small projects such as cleaning gutters before they become clogged and perpetuate further water damage to foundations and siding is a good first lesson to learn.

Will we like our new neighbors?

Neighbors are great when they’re quiet, kind, and take care of their property. Neighbors are not so great when their dog constantly uses your yard for a bathroom or are night owls who like to entertain into the wee hours of the morning.

Observing surrounding neighbors and their homes is almost as important as inspecting your potential new home. It’s worth meeting them casually before the purchase and even driving by different days and times to see what type of lifestyle they lead, making sure it’s compatible with your own.

Later, open communication will be a key cornerstone to future relationships. Small disagreements such as parking and lawn length can be headed off before they become full blown feuds.

As always, a criminal check is worth the online investigation. Most states require persons with certain convictions to be identified by address.

Do I have space for all of my vehicles?

Households with multiple cars might have difficulty finding parking if there aren’t designated spots for both. Street parking is challenging because of the scarcity of spaces, issues with parking tickets, towing, and permits. Even if the property does have a driveway, it’s possible it won’t accommodate multiple vehicles.

Neighborhoods and homeowners’ associations usually restrict the storage of recreation vehicles, boats, and possibly smaller machines like motorcycles and ATVs. The storage of these vehicles should be factored into a monthly budget if the property cannot accommodate their parking.

How will my commute be affected?

Certainly, some consideration must be made for calculating the time and distance it takes to travel to and from work. Chances are, departure and arrival times will change, as will the mode of transportation. It benefits some workers to utilize public transportation regularly. For military members, realize that buying a home near a duty station has its uncertainties with commutes. A homeowner must consider the local intricacies only your neighborhood might have, for example, school buses lining your street that back up traffic each morning or frequent red light cameras that issue tickets on the way into work.

Does the local school system meet our needs?

Parents often pay a premium for a new home because they desire certain public school districts. Only diligent and current research will advise buyers if the school suits their needs. Issues like redistricting, boundary lines, referendums on funding, and bus routes change quickly and could deter the pending sale. Special education opportunities often switch locations as facilities and funding are updated and better suited for the children’s education.

Reading local papers online and registering for community forums for your neighborhood will give insight not easily found in generic school rating websites.

If a new home is on the horizon, asking questions of yourself, lenders, inspectors, and real estate professionals is truly the only way to make an informed decision that will mitigate any buyer’s remorse in the future.

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