May 2015

10 Point Checklist: Your Ultimate House Hunt Game Plan

10 Point Checklist: Your Ultimate House Hunt Game Plan

Eenie meenie miney mo – which house is the sure fire way to go?

We totally get it – buying a house is fun: You can get to visualize your home and see exactly where things should be (That nook is per-fect for my Game of Thrones Shrine…err, I mean…books….yeah – my books…)

It’s exciting, tiring and overwhelming all at the same time.  But have no fear – we have your ULTIMATE House Hunt Game Plan so you can pinpoint your dream house.

Here’s the ultimate 10 point checklist of factors to consider for your house hunt game plan:

And without further ado….

1. Budget & Financing

Find out what you can realistically and comfortably afford every month.  Here’s a simple way to figure it out:

Step 1: Find out how much bacon you bring home every month

Step 2: Calculate your daily/monthly bills and expenses (cell, cable, grub, gas, etc.)

Step 3: Figure out what you can save – Can we say Smart!

Step 4: See what’s left over for a monthly mortgage payment

You could also use a mortgage calculator but if you really want a precise idea of what to expect, speak with a Home Loan Expert.  They will assess what your financial health is and determine whether you need to improve it or more forward with a mortgage pre-approval.  Get a FREE mortgage rate quote in 30 seconds with our simple form.

2. Location

Location, location, location!  It’s probably going to be about 50% of what you will factor in if not more when considering a house.

Things like work commute, supermarkets, social scenes, schools, etc. come into play when deciding on what neighborhood or city you want to live in. What you get pre-approved for will decide whether you can be in a more expensive hip, metro neighborhood or if you need to venture out where you can get more home for your money.

3. Safety

Some questions that you’ll need to pay some attention to include:

  • Is the home in a questionable area of town?
  • Will you have peace of mind when your (future) kids are playing in the yard?
  • Could you walk around the block at night and feel safe?
  • Is the home close to a busy road or highway?

Your home will be your sanctuary.  It’s a place that will ease your mind and help you relax, so it should be in an area where you and your family will feel safe and secure.

4. Size

Right now, you could be searching for yourself or maybe you and your partner are looking to purchase your first house.  In any case, you need to consider what your future plans are down the line to ensure you can grow into your home.

If it’s just for you and only you forever, then a condo may be a better fit.  If you’re planning on a family or housing family, you’ll probably need at least 2 bathrooms if not more and a couple of bedrooms to accommodate everyone so there’s isn’t any bottlenecking for bathroom time.   Or you could want to invest and live in a multifamily home to pay your mortgage off faster.

Possibilities are endless – it’s just a matter of planning for the future.

5. Condition

Maybe you’re a Do-It-Yourself-er or you’re a Park and Start type of person who needs a move-in-ready house.  It really depends on what you can afford with your time and money.

Fixer Uppers are a cheaper route where you can customize it to your heart’s desire.  BUT, it may require time to do the updates and money to fund each project.  And the home may not even be livable when you’re fixing it up.

Move-In houses are ready to use once you load it up with all your stuff, which does come at a premium.  HOWEVER, you’ll be able to clean and literally plug and play without having to fix anything or wait for projects to be completed.

6. Style

It’s your home.  You can find out what you want by listing wants or needs like an open floor plan, a ranch, hardwood floors, townhouse or other several style preferences.  This helps when weeding out certain houses because they don’t fit your criteria.  Your Real Estate Agent can identify houses that fit your needs when you have an idea of what styles will work.

7. Amenities

Things that make life sweet? Yes, please!

If you’re a fashionista or a dapper fellow, a TO-DIE for walk-in closet is a MUST.  Maybe you’re the next Food Network Star and you HAVE to have a premo quality kitchen to create tasty culinary art.  Or do you need to have a zen bathroom rivaling a Four Seasons Spa?

These are things that could be deal breakers, but it’s a good thing to figure out what you wouldn’t be able to live without when choosing a house.  Creating a list of perks versus necessities will help you determine what house best fits you.

8. Yard

It’s your outdoor sanctuary or entertaining space to have loved ones over.  You may want a yard so that you can watch over your (future) kids or to start an organic garden.

Whatever the use case is, be mindful of any landscaping and how much effort and time may be required to maintain it.  If you hate cutting grass, trimming shrubbery or raking leaves, a yard may not be an ideal piece of land for you.

9. Schools

New Jersey is known for great school systems, so if your planning on having kids or you already have kids, check out the school districts around your prospective house choices.

Find out what the available programs are for kids to enrich their knowledge as well as if there are any after school programs to help parents out.  Schools are also a big reselling point to future home buyers.  The better the school system, the easier the sell.

10. Windows & Lighting

Make sure to check out the condition of your windows and see if they are updated.  This could help out on your heating and cooling bill.  Double-paned windows lessen the chance of heat seeping out during the winter or heat creeping in during the summer.  You’ll be able to see how many need to be replaced or fixed.

You might also want to find out where sun light comes in if you love sun rises or sun sets.  Or maybe you just like lots of natural sun light versus something with a bit more shade.  This also plays into your heating and cooling bill depending on the season.

Other things you may want to consider would be street lamps.  Is there a street lamp that is literally in your face when you sleep because it’s right next to the window?  Yeah. No.

And that rounds up our ultimate house hunt game plan.  Go through this checklist when you’re looking at homes with your Real Estate Agent to create a clear vision of the house you want and the home that will house future memories.

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