Vivienne Sinkow's Blog
When you decide to make an offer on a home, your mind may be flooded with dozens of questions and concerns -- several of which may involve money matters, while others are about the condition of the house.
However, if you've had the house professionally inspected and made sure your income is sufficient to absorb monthly expenses, than you've already taken steps to prevent or at least minimize future challenges.
Since buying a home is such a big investment and there are so many emotional factors that could influence your decision, it's essential to stay focused, adhere to a budget, and be aware of what you need in order to be satisfied with your purchase.
The Financial Side of Things: Even though a mortgage broker or loan officer may approve you for a large mortgage, only you can determine whether you'd be comfortable making those monthly payments. In addition to the cost of your mortgage, property taxes, and school taxes, there are also other expenses to consider and include in the equation. If you're moving into a larger house, for example, the cost of heating and/or cooling your home may be higher than you're used to. Poorly insulated houses can also have a negative impact on home energy costs.
Another key factor to think about when you're figuring out the affordability of a potential new home is property maintenance, the cost of HVAC service, and miscellaneous expenses, such as appliance repairs, plumbing leaks, and electrical services. Some neighborhoods, residential developments, and condos also require a monthly Homeowner Association (HOA) fee, which can potentially put a burden on your cash flow situation. A good rule of thumb, of course, is to avoid spending beyond your means. While nobody would dispute the logic of that advice, it's often a lot easier said than done -- especially on an ongoing, consistent basis.
Non-Financial Priorities: The only way to know what you truly want and need in a new home is to clarify your goals, requirements, and wishes. Making lists, discussing it with your partner, and visiting lots of homes for sale will help give you the ideas, the inspiration, and helpful points of comparison you need. Online real estate listings and home improvement websites can also provide a wealth of practical ideas.
In addition to having enough bedrooms and bathrooms to meet your family's needs, it's also important to feel comfortable with the quality of the school district, the amount of noise in the neighborhood, and the traffic level on nearby streets. Proximity to recreation, shopping, and other amenities can also make the difference between your ideal home and one which doesn't quite make the grade. Privacy (or the lack, thereof) is also a major issue which can impact your satisfaction with a real estate purchase. While it's good to approach home buying with a sense of optimism, the best time to weigh all the pros and cons is before you sign the final papers at the closing table!