School’s back in session but as an adult, the School of Life never goes on break. When adulting, there are plenty of benefits to buying a home in this day and age. Information is at your fingertips – you can go online and find homes that are for sale, similar homes that have sold, checklists for buying a home, information about crime, information about schools, and so much more. There is a lot of research you can and should do when you are getting into house hunting mode.
First of all, if you are planning to get financing, it is necessary to get pre-approved by a lender. Starting here will help you establish a house-hunting budget. You can also go into depth on the type of loan, the interest rate, closing costs, etc. Make sure to find out about the lender’s process and compare their fees and rates to others to make sure you are satisfied with what you are getting. I would recommend asking friends or realtors for a referral. That’s one of the best ways to ensure you start off with a lender who is responsive, helpful and gets the job done right. Trust me, no one is going to suggest someone who causes delay and adds stress to this process.
The next thing to do is start looking at homes in your price range and areas of interest. This will help you gauge the market and set expectations. If you have champagne taste and a beer budget, you are bound to be disappointed. By tracking homes in the areas and price range you like, you will start to see trends and understand where there are values.
It is important to fact check information that you find online. For instance, many websites will list incorrect schools because they are simply pulling in the schools closest to the home. In many cases, your school zone may not be the closest school to your home. This can have a big impact on buyers since schools factor into resale values. Plus people often pick homes based on the schools they want their children to attend.
As for location, a lot of buyers can use technology to evaluate the location before they even do a drive-by. A quick look at Google can give people a street view of the neighborhood and help prospective buyers see if there are any commercial businesses nearby, busy streets or other features that they don’t deem desirable. This is a huge time saver because if there is a deal breaker, the buyer can cross this home off their list. For instance, I’ve had some clients tell me that they won’t consider a home that is next to a gas station or backing to a major street. It’s really easy to rule out those homes if you do your homework. So grab your notepad and make sure to cross your T’s and dot your I’s!
By Holly McDonald
Holly McDonald (formerly Holly Schwartz) is a realtor with Villa Real Estate who lives in Newport Beach and has been featured on HGTV’s “House Hunters.” She can be reached at HMcDonald@VillaRealEstate.com.