Gail DuBois' Blog
In the internet age, we’ve all seen dream homes on Google, Pinterest, or Instagram that seem to encompass everything we’ve ever wanted in a home.
Sometimes, obsessing over dream homes can be detrimental to us--making us feel bad about our own living situation or discouraged about ever being able to afford the home we truly want.
However, dream homes can serve a purpose when it comes to identifying what we really want out of a home.
In today’s post, we’re going to use the idea of a dream home “wish list” to help you narrow down what really matters to you and your family in your next home.
Step 1: Start by making a list of your dream homes
This is the easy part. If you’re like me, you probably have a Pinterest board or bookmark folder just for home inspiration.
Put all of the dream homes on your list. The order doesn’t matter, and you’ll find out why below.
Step 2: For each home, write down one or two of your favorite things
Is it the square footage? The location that’s perfect for your commute or for trips to your favorite places? Or, is it just the color scheme of the kitchen?
No aspect is too small for this list--it all depends on what you like, not what the price tag is.
Step 3: Go over your list and try to put the items in order of how much they matter to you.
An example would be:
A cheerful, bright colored kitchen
A cozy office to wok quietly in
A two-car garage
A playroom for the kids
A location that’s close to the water
Looking over these five things, there are only two items that can’t be found in most houses, a two-car garage and a location that’s near the water. And, this house-hunter didn’t even list those items as the most important.
So, what can we learn from this exercise? Oftentimes, the things we’re looking for the most in a home can be things that we can do later, like interior decorating or designating spare rooms to serve as an office or playroom.
Step 4: Use your top 3 when house hunting
Now that you have the top three things that you’d find in your dream home, take this list with you on your house hunt. Try to seek out a home that has a combination of these items and one that will be the most practical for your family.
You might find that these conveniences, such as being closer to your work for a shorter commute, will pay off in the long run, as they’ll let you spend more time with our family and make each day a little bit easier.
The more you know about the process of buying a house, the better prepared you'll be for doing it successfully.
How might you define "success" when it comes to purchasing a home?
There are a lot of standards that could be applied to successfully navigating the home buying process, but here are a few that immediately come to mind:
- Finding the house of your dreams: While very few people find a home that is absolutely perfect in every way, it is possible to come close to achieving that ideal. Although a certain amount of flexibility goes a long way, knowing what you want and prioritizing important features are among the main prerequisites to getting what you want. As baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." Thanks to the variety of websites devoted to home ownership, home decorating, remodeling, and landscaping, it's easy to find pictures online that can help inspire your imagination and clarify exactly what the house of your dreams might look like.
- Minimizing setbacks and frustrations: The process of house hunting is a journey that often involves bumpy roads, detours, and dead ends. One secret to getting through it successfully is to work with an experienced real estate agent who knows the ropes and can keep you on track. It also helps to approach house hunting with a sense of optimism, resourcefulness, and commitment. Although you probably have a lot of competing priorities in your life, finding a house that you and your family will be happy in for the next few years deserves a top spot on your list!
- Avoiding unpleasant surprises: Knowing your credit score and understanding the impact it will have on getting loan approval and a favorable interest rate will help prepare you for the financial side of buying a house. The ability to get prequalified for a mortgage and come up with sufficient down payment will also set the stage for a successful home buying experience. On the plus side, a higher down payment can potentially result in a lower interest rate and not having to pay private mortgage insurance (A 20% down payment is necessary to avoid PMI.) Since many loan programs and lenders require at least a 3-5% down payment, that can be a stumbling block for first-time home buyers. To purchase a $200,000 home, for example, you'd need to come up with a cash outlay of between $6,000 to $10,000 -- not an easy feat for everyone!
If you plan to conduct a house search, there is no reason to settle for inferior results. Instead, you should dedicate the necessary time and resources to conduct a comprehensive search for your dream house.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why it pays to perform an in-depth home search. These include:
1. You can avoid the risk of buying a subpar house.
As a homebuyer, it is paramount to discover a residence that meets or exceeds your expectations. Because if you purchase a house that falls short of your expectations, you may suffer the consequences of your decision for years to come.
For example, if you want to acquire a home quickly, you may be tempted to submit an offer to purchase the first house you view in-person. You might even choose to ignore house problems that are discovered during an inspection.
In the aforementioned scenario, you may wind up purchasing a home that will require costly, time-intensive repairs in the foreseeable future. Perhaps worst of all, you may struggle to generate equal value for your residence if you decide to re-sell it at a later date.
2. You can boost the likelihood of finding a house that matches your budget.
If you have a limited homebuying budget at your disposal, there is no need to leave any stone unturned in your quest for your ideal residence.
By dedicating time and resources to conduct an extensive house search, you'll be better equipped than other buyers to find a first-rate residence at a budget-friendly price. Plus, you may be able to pounce at the opportunity to buy a home that matches your budget as soon as this residence becomes available.
3. You may be able to capitalize on a buyer's market.
A patient homebuyer may be able to wait out a seller's market, i.e. a real estate market that features an abundance of buyers and a shortage of sellers. And in this situation, a buyer could capitalize on a buyer's market, i.e. a real estate market that boasts an abundance of sellers and a shortage of buyers. As a result, this buyer could choose from a wide selection of top-notch residences in a buyer's market and select a residence that offers a great combination of affordability and quality.
If you plan to pursue a home soon, you may want to hire a real estate agent. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive plenty of support throughout the property buying journey.
A real estate agent understands what it takes to conduct a thorough home search. He or she will keep you up to date about new houses that become available in your preferred cities and towns and offer expert homebuying recommendations. Also, if you want to submit an offer to purchase a home, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal.
Simplify the homebuying process – work with a real estate agent, and you can streamline your house search.
Ready to acquire your dream house? Before you embark on a home search, it often helps to establish a homebuying wish list. That way, you can narrow your house search and discover your dream home without delay.
Now, let's take a look at three factors to consider as you craft your homebuying wish list.
1. Home Size
Home sizes vary. As such, you'll want to consider your living situation closely to ensure you can find a house in a size that suits you perfectly.
Remember, a three-bedroom house may be too big for a single person. Much in the same vein, a one-bedroom home is unlikely to meet the needs of a family of five. But if you consider your living situation ahead of time, you can determine what size home to buy.
2. Home Location
Do you want to own a house that is located just minutes from your office in the city? Or, would you prefer a home in a small town? Think about where you want to live, and you can tailor your home search accordingly.
Keep in mind that home prices will vary based on location. Oftentimes, houses in or near major cities are more expensive than similar homes in small towns. At the same time, homes close to top schools or attractions may prove to be more expensive than others.
3. Home Exterior and Interior Features
Consider the home exterior and interior features that you want – you'll be glad you did. If you evaluate home exterior and interior must-haves, you can create priorities as you search for your dream house.
For instance, buying a house that features a central air unit may be a top priority if you plan to relocate to a warm-weather region. On the other hand, you might want to purchase a house that features an in-ground swimming pool, but you can live without this outdoor amenity if necessary.
A homebuying wish list is essential, regardless of where you choose to pursue houses. In addition, if you require extra help as you get ready to enter the housing market, you may want to employ a real estate agent.
With a real estate agent at your side, you can boost your chances of acquiring a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price. A real estate agent will allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about your homebuying goals. Then, this housing market professional can help you streamline your home search.
Furthermore, a real estate agent will provide expert assistance throughout the homebuying journey. He or she will set up home showings, help you submit offers on homes and handle homebuying negotiations. And if you ever have homebuying questions, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them at any time.
Make your dream of purchasing a home come true – consider the aforementioned factors, and you can create a wish list to help you accomplish your homebuying goals.
Becoming a home owner for the first time is an exciting milestone for Millennials! Going from renting an apartment to owning your own property represents a big transition from dependency to independence.
For many people, it even symbolizes making the leap from childhood to adulthood. Once you're a homeowner and a property taxpayer, there's often a newfound feeling of being more established and successful.
While home ownership may bestow upon you a boost in status, the added responsibility of paying for your own repairs, maintenance, and upkeep can take an unexpected toll on your budget. With a little extra planning, however, you can avoid many of the pitfalls of home ownership.
Looking at the Big Picture
Here's a misconception that sometimes creates a financial strain for first-time homeowners: "If we can afford to pay $1800 in rent, every month, then we should be able to afford monthly mortgage payments in that same amount!" While that premise may sound logical, there are a few crucial "missing pieces" from that equation -- pieces which could throw your household budget out of kilter!
In addition to the costs associated with purchasing real estate, such as a down payment and closing costs, there's also the matter of home repairs and property maintenance. Depending on where you decide to live, there could be other fees to absorb, too, including garbage collection, yard waste removal, and water usage. Other expenses that first-time homeowners may overlook include the cost of buying a lawnmower, a snow blower, yard maintenance supplies, tools, and furniture. That's why creating a detailed estimated budget, based on your income, debts, and anticipated expenses can help you determine whether you're truly ready to take the plunge into homeownership.
Enlisting Professional Help
A mortgage broker or bank loan officer can provide you with assistance in calculating your financial readiness for purchasing a home. A good real estate agent can also offer insights and guidance into the process of finding, buying, and owning a house you can comfortably afford. They should be able to provide you with vital information about school taxes, property taxes, average utility bills, homeowner association fees (if any), and any issues revealed in the seller's disclosure form.
One way to avoid -- or at least be prepared for -- costs that often accompany home ownership is to have a qualified property inspector take a close look at the condition of everything in the house from the basement and attic to major appliances and structural features. They can generally tell you whether there are any concerns about mechanical systems, water in the basement, foundation damage, issues with property drainage, the electrical system, potential plumbing problems, and dozens of other vital checkpoints
Whether you're a first-time house hunter or a seasoned homeowner, it pays to understand, anticipate, and budget for the many costs of being a property owner. While owning your own home can be a rewarding and satisfying experience, a guiding principle to keep in mind as you consider available homes on the market is "caveat emptor" (Let the buyer beware)!