Fall is one of the busiest times of the year for homeowners and sellers alike, but for buyers in particular, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with your never-ending search. That’s especially true in our current seller’s market, where competition for homes is fierce. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 52% of home buyers cited finding the right property as the most difficult part of buying a home. With so many options to choose from and decisions to make, it often seems easier not to buy a home at all. But don’t give up yet — it’s critical to have some essential questions answered before your home search even begins.
With that in mind, here are just a few important aspects to keep in mind before starting your home search.
As far as location is concerned, you’ll have to consider more than simply urban versus suburban. This is especially important if you’re moving out of state or to an area that may be more prone to natural disasters. If this is the case, then make sure every home you look at is thoroughly protected at the foundation: ICF (insulated concrete form) construction is capable of protecting properties from certain natural disasters because they’re capable of withstanding 250 mile-per-hour winds. There are plenty of other options when it comes to foundation insulation and protection, but make sure any homes in disaster-prone areas are sufficiently protected.
Another aspect of location is sloping: if your desired location gets hit with fierce winters, getting your vehicle in and out of a particularly steep driveway could be a serious challenge — make sure you’re up for it.
When considering the maintenance you’re willing to put into your next home, don’t just consider the current state of the home. Instead, consider the property as a whole. About 85 million households in the US have private lawns, and you’ll have to be prepared for the landscaping maintenance that comes with your yard size. If you’re looking for something that’s low maintenance but you still want to have an outdoor entertainment area, perhaps a newly constructed home is the right option for you. Not only do newly built homes require less maintenance, but according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction, 56% of new homes started in 2014 have a patio, and there are countless ways to make your outdoor living space unique once you find the perfect home.
Finally, it’s no secret that many people — if not most people — are buying with sustainability and overall efficiency in mind. There are serious financial benefits that can come with buying a home with sustainable features, like a new and more efficient HVAC system or new windows. If you’ve decided that sustainability is definitely one of your values, there’s a very specific way to get a good idea of the quality of the HVAC system of any home you’re looking at:
“First, check to see if the AC’s filter has been recently changed. Then try turning down the thermostat and see if the unit runs. Meanwhile, make sure air is blowing through all the vents…Check out the outdoor condenser, listening for any strange sounds, and make sure the condensation line in the evaporator coil — likely found in the furnace — is flowing smoothly. Last, examine the ductwork, looking for any rusting or poor fittings,” writes Jamie Wiebe on Realtor.
Of course, these are just a few of the many considerations and decisions you’ll have to make during your dream home hunt. Don’t hesitate to ask your realtor for fall-specific home hunting advice!
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