What You Need to Know Before Falling in Love with a House

the word home with a heart in the E before a white background

You have a new job. You have a new baby. Maybe you just don’t like your current abode. Whatever the reason, you’re going house hunting this year, and you’re in need of tips on your next home purchase.

So what are the things you need to consider? We’ve got your must-have advice on buying a home since we’ve been there and done that ourselves.

Where do you want to move?

tips before buying a home - a well-maintained suburban street
Visit your new neighborhood.

Location, location, loca – you get the point, but you seriously need to consider where you want to move and why. Are you looking to be close to shops and restaurants? How about that commute (once the pandemic is over)? If you have kids, how good are the school systems?

These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself, but you should also take into consideration:

  • Flooding. Is the house in the flood zone, and will you need flood insurance? Just because you’re not near a river or a lake doesn’t mean your area won’t flood.
  • Crime rate. Do you need a security system, or does your home already have one?
  • Proximity to an emergency room. Accidents happen. You never want to be too far from help.
  • Your pet peeves and absolute needs. If you need coffee every morning, does the town have a coffee shop? Is it in the flight path of Newark Liberty International Airport and you cannot deal with the noise?
a house is brightly lit during dusk
Cruise around at night.

Before finding homes in your new neighborhood, visit at different times. Make sure you like it in the early morning and the evening. Don’t forget to drive around extensively. You don’t want to move in and find a nuclear power plant in your backyard (a quasi-true story).

What can you afford?

tips before buying a home - a small home with a porch and rocking chair sits on the edge of a tiny lake
Be realistic about your budget.

You’ll hear the word “budget” a lot when it comes to buying a home.  Consider if you can afford a new home or a fixer-upper, but you should know your level of DIY skills, especially first-time home buyers.

Are you a master homeowner able to paint, plaster, and prime in a single bound? Or are you completely “pros only”? Either way, this choice will factor into what type of home you can and should buy.

the word mortgage in white and black letters on a hardwood desk
Get preapproval before ever stepping into a home.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a good start to knowing your budget. Once you know your price range, decide what type of home you want and go searching. Take into account any and every renovation your new-to-you home may need. That has to be factored into your overall budget.

Don’t forget about your monthly payments and budget, either. One of the best tips before buying a home is to understand your property taxes, mortgage payments, credit card bills, etc. Make sure your home’s purchase price is right for you.

What do you need and what do you want in a new home?

home office with a desk, chair, and a laptop hooked to a large monitor
Do you need a home office (or two)?

You have two cars, and the town doesn’t allow you to park on the street from November to April. You’ll need enough space in the driveway, but do you need that extra bedroom? How about that large, eat-in kitchen with countertops that never end and enough space for a cooktop and a 30-inch wall oven?

Decide what you can live with and without, and be ready to compromise. Though you want your new home to be perfect, few home buyers find everything they want on their list and manage to pay for it, too.

Fixer-upper vs. Pristine house

An electrician works on a light in a ceiling during a big renovation project.
Do you have mad DIY skills?

This may be your dream home, but it can quickly turn into a money pit. Make sure to check the physical condition of your home – the foundation, structure, roofing, windows, porches or decks. Some features you can change – paint, style, that terrible rug in the home office – but expensive renovations or upgrades may take a specific home out of your price point.

One on the most important tips before buying a home is to get a home inspection before signing on the dotted line. That will tell you the state of the home’s systems, appliances, and other features as well as their approximate age.

Consider all opportunities

a woman holds a laptop as she contemplates whether the money is worth the house
Don’t let opportunities pass you by.

Do you like that smaller house but need that extra bedroom it’s lacking? Perhaps the wiggle room in your budget will allow you to expand in the future. Does that larger home have rental opportunities that can help you afford it?

Before you lose the home that stole your heart, consider all your options. You might be able to make it work, but also note – you might not. So don’t get too attached. (Of course, we say that like it hasn’t happened to us.)

Be prepared for all expenses

a tiny home, microscope, and a piggy bank are all on the blueprints to a home
Be prepared for closing costs and home maintenance.

One of the best tips before buying a home is “expect the unexpected expenses.” Closing costs, homeowners insurance, title insurance, even simply packing and moving– these are all expected but you never know when something might pop up. One way to prevent an issue is to buy a home that’s lower than top price point. That’ll give you some room in your budget for “just in case.”

Shop around a bit for loan

a welcome mat, saying Home Sweet Home, surrounded by moving boxes
Get a loan, enjoy your new home.

Talk to your real estate agent or mortgage broker to learn how best to navigate the process and perhaps even save some money. Taking private mortgage insurance (or PMI) may help you secure that dream home if you don’t have that coveted 20 percent down payment. You may be able to get a better deal with FHA loans (or government-backed loans) versus conventional loans, so one of the best tips before buying a home is to not be afraid to shop around a bit. And don’t be afraid to ask about all your options.

Once you find and purchase your home, check out these moving tips and tricks from a professional organizer!

Take care of your new home

two cell phones in front of an affluent blue home with the vipHomeLink dashboard up on the screens
vipHomeLink can help!

Congratulations! You have a home, but now you’ll have to take care of it. vipHomeLink can help! Our home management app helps you know what to do and when to do it with personalized reminders for home maintenance. The app also sends you tailored recommendations for home improvement, and our new weather notifications help to ready your home for whatever Mother Nature can throw at it.

Start your next home adventure with vipHomeLink. Subscribe today with a monthly or annual membership.

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