Ned Mahoney's Blog
House shopping when you live far from your new community is not easy, but technology makes it much simpler to tackle this big task. While nothing beats in-person visits, if you live across the country, or even in an international destination, you may not have that option. Here’s a look at how you can make a long-distance house shopping experience work.
Find the Right Agent
You’re going to need a tech-savvy agent who is willing to be in constant communication. The agent is going to need to use technology to help you see houses, be able to get documents back and forth successfully and know how to move quickly when you’re ready to make the purchase.
Start your search online to narrow down what it is you do and don’t want. Different areas of the country have different types of homes, so you may find the basement you’re hoping for just isn’t standard for homes in your new community. Once you have narrowed down what you’re looking for, use the Internet to learn more about the communities.
Yes, you can have showings long-distance. Using real-time video tools like FaceTime or Skype, your agent can walk you through the home. This is why the agent you choose is so critical, because you’re going to need this type of partnership to find the right home. These real-time video tours will allow you to see the home's condition. The right agent will do a thorough search of the property and tell you about potential problems they may find.
Research Neighborhoods Carefully
One thing your agent won’t be able to do is give you specific details about neighborhoods, other than facts like its schools and commute times. Research neighborhoods carefully online to learn all you can about them, and find one that seems like a good fit for your needs. If you can, make a survey trip to your new community to narrow down the neighborhoods with the right vibe for you.
Never Skip the Inspection
When you’re buying a home long distance, you’ll need that inspection, even if it isn’t required. The inspection gives you details about the home that will be critical to your decision-making process.
Buying a home when you don’t live near the community is much easier today than it ever has been due to the increased amount of technology available to modern home buyers. Use this technology well, and soon you’ll find a home that’s a great fit.
When you move into a home that you worked so hard to buy, it’s an exciting and overwhelming time. The biggest problem with a new place is that you don’t know your surroundings very well. Even if you have just moved down the street, there’s a lot of new things to be discovered from new neighbors to new places to explore.
One thing that many new homeowners overlook is the way in which their new home functions. Do you know where the circuit breakers are? What about that switch in the corner of the living room that doesn’t seem to do anything? While the seller's disclosure and your home inspector will give you a wealth of information, you can gain a lot of knowledge just by asking questions.
Sellers may not be eager to answer too many questions at first for fear that their answers could jeopardize the sale of their home. You can safely ask a lot of questions at the final walk-through or at closing since the seller will know that they’re secure in the transaction.
What’s Strange About This House?
While you wouldn’t word a question to a seller in this exact way, you do want to know if there’s anything unique or anything that you should anticipate about the home. Remember that you should be subtle, yet curious in your question asking.
What Type Of Repairs Have Been Made?
While you expect that most repairs will be on the disclosure statement, anything that has been done in the past is noteworthy as well. It’s helpful to know what’s been done in the house in the past so you have an idea of what to keep an eye out for.
Where Are The Important Utility Boxes In The Home?
Not all home inspectors are created equal. Your inspector may not be great at educating you as to where things are in the home like the circuit box, the water switches, the pump, or the controls for the furnace. The seller can often show you the location of these items in the house. This will prevent you from a lot of confusion starting at the time you move into the home.
Have You Enjoyed Living In This Neighborhood?
You can discover a lot about a neighborhood if you just start a conversation about the seller’s own experiences. You can learn a lot through this simple question. Are there any crazy dogs in the neighborhood? Where are the best places to eat in the area? While you may not ask these questions directly, you can gain some powerful information just by being curious and conversational.
Gaining a good rapport with your seller can get you places. You’ll know a bit more about the home and the seller will even feel more friendly towards you. The seller could even leave some cool stuff behind that they don’t need like a microwave, a piece of furniture, or a patio set. All you need to do is be friendly and curious and you’ll be off to a great start in your new home.
You've attended an open house – now what? Ultimately, there are many questions for homebuyers to consider after they attend an open house, and these include:
1. Did the home match or exceed my expectations?
It is important to understand whether a home is one that you could enjoy both now and in the future. And if you found that you liked a home after an open house, you may want to proceed with an offer on this residence.
Usually, it is a good idea to carry a checklist of your homebuying wants and needs that you can use throughout an open house. With this list in hand, a homebuyer can identify a house's strengths and weaknesses.
If you ever have concerns or questions during an open house, don't hesitate to find the listing real estate agent for assistance too. By doing so, you can gain the insights you need to determine whether a particular house is a viable long-term investment.
2. What would life be like if I purchased the home?
An open house can bring out a broad range of emotions in homebuyers, particularly if these individuals see things that they like in a residence.
For example, a homebuyer who sees a large outdoor deck may envision summer barbecues with family members and friends. Or, a homebuyer who views a spacious kitchen might picture dinner parties that he or she could host in the future.
If a home brings out positive feelings, it may be a keeper. As such, a homebuyer who feels good about a home after an open house may want to move forward with an offer.
3. Am I ready to submit an offer on the home?
Submitting an offer on a house can be tricky. On the one hand, you don't want to overspend to acquire a residence. Conversely, you want to submit a competitive offer that matches the home seller's expectations.
After an open house, it never hurts to meet with a real estate agent. Then, you can outline your homebuying goals and determine whether now is a good time to submit an offer on a residence.
If you decide to proceed with an offer, ensure that the proposal is fair and is submitted in a timely fashion. In all likelihood, the home seller will have 24 to 48 hours to accept, decline or counter your proposal. Once you receive a home seller's decision on your offer, you can determine the next step on your homebuying journey.
Lastly, if a home seller rejects your offer, there is no need to worry. With an expert real estate agent at your side, you can check out other open house events in your area. And as a result, you should have no trouble accelerating the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.
Alleviate stress as you decide how to proceed after you attend an open house – consider the aforementioned factors, and you can determine whether a particular residence is right for you.
The homebuying journey may be complicated, particularly for those who fail to plan for it. Fortunately, there are lots of things that you can do to boost your chances of enjoying a successful property buying experience.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you start a successful homebuying journey.
1. Establish Criteria for Your Home Search
Create homebuying criteria – you'll be glad you did. With homebuying criteria in hand, you can speed up the process of finding your dream residence.
Think about the features you want to find in your ideal house. For example, if you want to own a residence that boasts a luxurious in-ground swimming pool, you can search for houses that offer this feature. Or, if you want to purchase a home that includes a central air conditioning system, you can hone your house search accordingly.
Don't forget to consider where you want to reside too. If you prefer big city life over small town living – or vice-versa – you should account for this factor as you kick off your house search.
2. Get Your Finances in Order
Obtaining a home mortgage is key, especially for individuals who want to streamline the homebuying process. Luckily, banks and credit unions are happy to help you select the right mortgage based on your individual needs.
Banks and credit unions employ friendly mortgage specialists who can take the guesswork out of home financing. If you meet with these professionals, you can learn about all of your mortgage options. Then, you can select a mortgage and enter the housing market with a budget.
3. Hire a Real Estate Agent
Navigating the homebuying journey on your own may prove to be exceedingly difficult, regardless of whether you are operating in a buyer's or seller's market. However, if you hire a real estate agent, you can simplify your house search and discover your dream residence without delay.
A real estate agent knows the ins and outs of the housing market and will share his or her expertise with you. That way, you can work with a real estate agent to become a housing market expert.
In addition, a real estate agent offers comprehensive support throughout the homebuying journey. He or she first will craft a custom homebuying strategy for you based on your property buying goals. Next, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about available houses in your preferred cities and towns. Once you find a home you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase it. Finally, a real estate agent will guide you through the home closing process.
For those who want to enjoy a quick, easy homebuying experience, it usually is a good idea to plan ahead as much as you can. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can launch a successful homebuying journey and take the necessary steps to acquire your dream residence any time you choose.
Planning significant purchases like your first new car or home are big steps in life. While the purchase itself is a thrill ride, lack of planning may end up in buyer's remorse. To avoid such a pitfall, you need to impart a few guidelines around those larger purchases to protect yourself from disappointment or frustration later. Taking stock of your financial goals and your current situation can clear the way to confidence when shopping for your dream car, home, or other major purchases.
Plan, plan, plan
Having a written spending plan you can use to guide your decisions gives you a snapshot of where you are. Laying out a six to 12-month program for your income and expenses will allow you to determine when you shop, or even make an offer on something. Remember that a plan is only as good as the information you have, so make sure you keep all aspects of your financial life up to date. This upkeep includes retirement accounts, debts, interest rates on those debts, any fluctuation in income, and any changes in your cost-of-living expenses (rent, insurance rates or gas prices). Any of these things have the potential to delay or accelerate your purchase. When you are elevating larger purchases, remember the monthly payment is not the only expense associated with the purchase.
The big picture for housing expenses
When purchasing a home, that may be a bit more complicated. You will need to ask for information from those in the real estate and mortgage industry to get the information you need to see the big picture. Again, the monthly payment is not the only thing you will pay each monthly, especially if you are a renter. Knowing what expenses you will be taking on is essential. Besides the money you will need to purchase a home initially, there are other increases to your monthly expenses as a homeowner. Homeowner's insurance is more expensive than renter's insurance, so make sure your spending plan adjusts accordingly. You will want to think about your commute to work if you have one and budget more for gas if your trip to work will be longer from your new address. Sometimes the utility costs will be lower especially if you are buying an energy efficient or more modern home.
Home buying, when you have processed all the information and are confident financially, is an exciting adventure.