The first thing that most of us think of is the adage… “location, location, location”. While that is certainly very critical, there are many other things to consider when buying real estate. Here are some universal guidelines.
- How long you intend to stay in a home. This is an important question to consider because moving is quite expensive. If you’re in a temporary job and may soon be relocating to another city or even state, renting rather than owning might be a better option.While none of us entirely knows how our future will play out, understanding how long you expect to stay in your home allows you the chance to decide how large a home you want. If you’re a young couple, a home that is able to grow with you might be appealing.
Whether you’re buying a home to live in or as a rental, the next series of tips can help in either circumstance. What makes a home more comfortable to its owners can also make it more attractive to renters.
- Job market. It’s always a good idea to check the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to see how the employment is in an area that you are considering purchasing a home. Areas with lower unemployment, of course, are most attractive. The greater the demand for jobs in an area, the more likely home prices are to go up.
- Check area vacancies. This may not seem that important if you’re planning to live in the home but actually this is a good thing to know even if you don’t rent your home. If there are lots of vacancies compared to surrounding areas, there could be a slowing in the market. If you’re planning to rent the home, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough savings to cover expenses any time when your home sits vacant. If the market is slowing, there could be a period of several months before you get a quality tenant in place. Being prepared will ease the stress.
- Visit the local police. Crime in an area isn’t always detectable right away from a few visits to your potential home. Do a little digging. Ask questions. Investigate the neighborhood. Some areas may look okay but may have a high crime rate. It’s best to understand the neighborhood you might soon call home.
- Natural disasters. Believe it or not, some people like a home so much that they disregard the natural disasters in the area. This isn’t to say that buyers should say, “Well, I can’t buy a home in California because they have occasional earthquakes.” Rather, some buyers are willing to gamble big time. For instance, they are willing to buy homes that are located on unstable cliffs where the cliffs are eroding year after year. Insurance… if you can get it… will certainly be higher. Natural disaster-prone areas such as flood zones may require additional insurance and a strong stomach to endure the stress. Ultimately, what to look for when buying real estate is about considering the things that will matter not just in this moment but in the years to come. Having a good strong foundation beneath your home and a safe neighborhood are key components to creating a happy homeownership and good investment.
Written by Phoebe Chongchua