Pamela McArdle's Blog
No matter what your age, buying a new home symbolizes the beginning of a new chapter in your life. It's an exciting event, whether you're a first-time home buyer or a retiree looking to downsize. When you stumble upon a house in your price range that has the features and characteristics you've been searching for, it can be a life-changing moment!
Unfortunately, it's at this point that many people cast their good judgment to the wind! Although it's difficult to separate your emotions from the rational part of your brain, it's crucial that you try to make a balanced decision -- one that's based on your budget, your short-term needs, and your long-term goals.
Sometimes buyers can develop "tunnel vision" when they see a house with a white picket fence, a big backyard, or a cozy-looking eat-in kitchen. In some cases, people are irresistibly drawn to a house that reminds them of where they grew up. While all those elements can enhance a home's ambiance and charm, the most satisfying home-buying choices usually come from being able to look at "the big picture."
One vital step in the house-buying process that helps eliminate a lot of the risk is having the property carefully looked over by a certified house inspector. That way, even if your judgement is a little skewed by your emotional attachment to the house's architectural style or its resemblance to the house you grew up in, you can be reasonably sure it is structurally sound and free from any major defects. Although home inspectors can't look behind walls or accurately predict how long an HVAC system will last, they can provide you with valuable insights into the condition of the house, the stability of the foundation, and other aspects of the property. When you know the strengths and weaknesses of a house you're considering buying, you can make an informed decision that will be based, in large part, on a professional, objective opinion.
Other factors worth bringing into your decision might include the commuting distance to your job or business, the amount of privacy the property affords, the overall character of the neighborhood, and the proximity of the property to grocery stores, drug stores, other retail shops, entertainment, recreation, childcare, medical services, family, friends, and other necessities. When choosing a place to call home, you may also want to take note of how quiet (or noisy) the neighborhood is, its access to highways and transportation services, and the reputation and ranking of the local school district.
Additional information about desirable places to live can be gleaned from websites like Livability, U.S. News and World Report, Niche, Money Magazine, and the National Association of Realtors. To get expert guidance that relates to your specific circumstances and wish list, consider working with an experienced real estate agent. They'll help you navigate the market, negotiate on your behalf, and find the home that best suits your needs and lifestyle.