12 Questions to Answer Before You Step Foot in an Open House
How to Find the Perfect Home for You and Your Budget Series, Week 2
In our 8-part series, How to Find the Perfect Home for You and Your Budget, you’ll learn how to find a home that is the right fit for your lifestyle, needs and, most importantly, your budget. I will take you through every single step and show you how to avoid buyer’s remorse. Your first home is most likely the stepping stone so you want to do it right and set yourself up financially to move up to your next home.
We all do it. We finally feel ready to buy a home, the time is right, we feel like we have saved enough for a down payment, AND we then assume the next logical step is to get online and find some open houses to go to.
Resist that urge.
Yep, I tell my clients to NOT start looking around at homes immediately!
Because I want clients like you to look “under your hood” so-to-speak and ask yourself some very important questions first. I want you first to define and picture the life you want to live and a home that will match it.
Most agents don’t approach home buying this way, but I do.
This “self-analysis” will dig deeper than “how much square footage would you like?” Your honest and revealing answers will lead you to the right home purchase — for you, for your lifestyle, and for your budget.
Please don’t think that this brainstorming and self-exploration is something to scoff at … just ask my previous clients. It worked for them and it will for you!
Your answers to the questions below will help you avoid a personal and financial disaster when it comes to real estate. You don’t want to rush in blindly when buying a home.
That’s why if you slow down and take the time to think and really evaluate your life and the “what” and “why” for a home, the rest of your home-buying experience (especially the house
You’ll actually get everything you want … and maybe even things you didn’t think you could have (or didn’t think about before)!
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Step Foot in an Open House:
1.) How long do you plan to live in this next home (and also how long will you own this home if you plan on renting it out after you move out)?
This is THE absolute most important question to answer honestly since it will affect the rest of your home-buying search. You must answer this question first before you continue to the others.
2.) What will your life look like during that timeframe?
Answering this question will help you determine what purpose your home will serve, most specifically your wants and needs at that stage of your life. Plus, you’ll determine what your #1 driver (or reason) for buying a home now and for the time period you want to own that home.
3.) What about your current daily life do you love and are not willing to give up?
For example, do you love being able to walk to work? Do you love going to your local coffee house every day and enjoying local conveniences? Do you like to go for runs outside or hit the gym instead? What is your actual reality day-to-day that you don’t want to sacrifice if you can?
4.) Are you more of a “homebody” or more of a “night-out-on-the-town” kind of person?
Knowing the answer to this question will help you determine how much space you need. If you never have people over, then why have a huge space for that dining table you never use? But, if you would rather cook dinner for friends than going out to restaurants, then don’t give up your dream of having enough room to make this desire a reality.
5.) Do you work late and need to be close to the office with a quick, easy commute?
This question will help you determine location as well as things like whether you need a dedicated parking spot. Or maybe you love biking to work every morning, but don’t want to have your bike in your living room anymore. Then looking for bike storage in a building that’s easy to get in and out of every day, twice a day will be important to you.
6.) What are your personal and financial goals during the timeframe you are going to be living in this new home?
For example, do you plan to change jobs at some point so that your finances may change – a possible increase or decrease in salary? You don’t want to have a mortgage that binds you to your current job, especially if your goal is to switch to a less stressful work life while living there.
7.) What are your hobbies and how will they impact your life while you live in this home?
Confused? For example, would you prefer to live in a less expensive, possibly smaller home so you have the funds to travel the world or even for a favorite hobby … (think scuba diving, travel photography, etc.)?
Or do you want to live close to an important outside interest (think horseback riding, sailing, ballroom dancing, etc.)? Or do you want space for your hobbies (think painting with canvases and easel, crafting supplies, or refurbishing antiquing finds, etc.)?
8.) Do you consider yourself a “location person” or a “house person”?
SO important! Some people get more excited about the local amenities than the features inside their home. Usually, people tend to be more one than the other. Which are you? What do you tend to gravitate toward?
For example, would you rather be near urban conveniences, lots of quiet green space, or a wider number of school choices? Then location could be more important to you. If so, many locations have distinct personalities, and you want to find one that works for you. Keep in mind that certain locations will feature only certain types of homes to buy – condo apartment, row house, townhome, or single-family home.
On the other hand, if having lots of inside space, an awesome chef’s kitchen, and a Jacuzzi bathtub gets you all excited rather than any particular neighborhood, then you are more of a house person.
9.) Are schools in the neighborhood a factor for this home purchase?
Even if you don’t plan to have children soon, it’s a question worth asking since homes in better school districts tend to appreciate more in value. If you have young children or plan to start a family in the near future, then getting yourself educated about schools will be important. Just remember that your agent can’t recommend school districts due to Fair Housing Laws. You’ll need to do your own research and get feedback from friends and family.
10.) What is there about your current home that you would like to change or be different in your next home?
What bothers you every single day about your current home? For example, it could be lack of closet space or not enough counter space in the kitchen. And, on the flip side, what is the absolute most important, can’t-live-without it, deal breaker thing you MUST have? (We all have one.) Do you really, really want that master bedroom suite or that large eat-in kitchen? What about parking space? Or to live near public transportation or access to highways?
11.) Describe your ideal scenario when it comes to your home purchase and why.
This is the time to dream BIG! After asking yourself all the questions above, now’s the time to take your brainstorming to pen and paper. Get out a piece of paper and write down everything you could possibly have if you could have it all (within reason) in your next perfect home. Don’t hold back! Write down things you might think are out of reach.
12.) What would you be willing to compromise on in a home?
It’s hard to start with what you are willing to give up, but after listing out all the things you DO want from the questions above (and don’t hold back on this part—list everything!) Circle three things you could possibly live without on that list.
Congrats on answering all of these questions and hopefully it sparked some additional self-analysis that will help you find that perfect home! Next week, we’ll take a closer look at whether you are a “location” person or a “house” person. It’s your leading compass on where and what you will look at when you start house hunting.
I'm Carmen Cotto-Rivera and I love helping first time home buyers, including Spanish speakers, buyer their first home. I also love helping sellers looking to move up or downsize to their next home. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate goals come true.
921 Pleasant Valley Av
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
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