Now that you’ve decided to move, how will you find the perfect new home?
We came up with a few tips that will help make your home search easier, all while managing your move.
“The first step is always the hardest,” says Janine Acquafredda, an associate broker with House-N-Key Realty in Brooklyn, N.Y. “But if you do your homework, it should almost feel like you’ve done this all before.”
So, here’s the homework:
Crunch the numbers.
For many, that first step is the hardest because it involves the math — those intimidating numbers that keep home shoppers on the fence.
But if done right, your budgeting and financing can be an enlightening process that lays out the path for the rest of your homebuying experience.
Perhaps one of the best places to start is to get prequalified for a loan.
“It is never a good idea to start looking at homes until you have your loan officer go over your financials to know what your price range is,” says Amber Dolle, a Realtor with John Aaroe Group in the Los Angeles, Calif., area.
It’s also highly important you have a budget in place, that way you don’t waste time looking outside of your price range.
“Homeownership can be very rewarding, but requires careful planning,” says Frederick Serrecchia, chief business development officer and broker of record for Canadian-based Navut real estate service. “Consulting your financial advisor or a mortgage broker can give you a good overall picture of what you can afford without stretching your budget too thin.”
Determine your wants and needs.
Once you know your budget, it’s time to start evaluating what you really want and what you actually need.
“Determine your needs by really focusing on why you are moving and what your current priorities are,” says Serrecchia. “Take a step back and consider where you are in your career and personal life.”
Are you a single buyer moving to a new city? Maybe a condo or townhome is right for you. Are you a young couple looking to expand in a friendly neighborhood? Maybe you should look into a master-planned community.
Then, make a list of your wants and needs.
“Write down two lists of things that are important to you in a home and label them ‘Deal Breakers’ and ‘Things I’d Like in a Home,’” says Dolle. “Deal Breakers will be things that you must have in a home — such as three bedrooms or under $400,000. The other list should have things that would be nice, but not necessary, such as hardwood floors or a fireplace in the living room.”
Find the right neighborhood.
Now that you’ve figured out what you want in a home, it’s time to see which communities offer that kind of home.
A good place to start? Online, with a site like NewHomeSource.com, of course. A quick search in your city and surrounding area is likely to bring up numerous new-home community, townhome and condo listings, which you can browse through at your leisure to see which ones match up with your checklist.
“I am a firm believer that neighborhood quality and lifestyle suitability are key factors when purchasing a new home,” says Serrecchia. “A great property in the wrong neighborhood will never make the perfect home.”
Narrowing down the neighborhoods you plan to visit will save you a lot of time and give you peace of mind once it’s time to start touring communities.
Get professional help.
In addition to getting professional help from a lender or financial advisor, it’s also wise to seek out an agent or builder’s sales representative, especially if you’re having difficulty in the above steps or moving from out of state.
“A good Realtor will not only propose options and show you homes, but also serves as a consultant and provides expertise to help you make a sound decision,” says Serrecchia. “Always do your due diligence and (make) sure to work with experts, as this will be one of the biggest investments you can make.”
Additionally, during the shopping process you’ll want to speak with a builder’s sales representative, who will be readily available for appointments when you begin touring communities, advises Acquafredda.
These professionals are trained to walk you through the new-home process with their builder and guide you through design options as you walk through model homes.
If you are pressed for time because of your upcoming move, ask the sales reps if any quick move-in homes are available.
Tour and take notes.
Whether you find it on your own or through the help of a real estate agent, step number five is still all the same: tour model homes and take some good notes.
“Do not go out and buy the first thing you see,” advises Acquafredda. “You should view three to five properties on your first outing — enough to compare, but not so many that you lose track.”
Take notes on what you like, what you don’t like, need or don’t need or anything important the sales rep shares with you.
“After your first day of viewing and armed with all your notes, schedule one or two more viewings,” says Acquafredda, adding that after three outings, you should be able to make an educated decision on which home you want to purchase.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you find a new home.
Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). He graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2014 with a degree in agricultural communications and journalism.