There are as many versions of the perfect home as there are people who want to live in them. Regardless of whether you want a small cottage on the coast or a luxury home in the inner suburbs, we’re here to tell you how to find your perfect home online.
Spell Out What Would Make a Home Perfect for You
What do you want in a home? And what would your minimum standards be? For example, you may want three bedrooms and an office in your ideal home but be satisfied with a four-bedroom home where you can turn a bedroom into an office. For most families, two bedrooms is a minimum, but separate bathrooms for each child would be ideal. Some people are allergic to yardwork and want to have a no-maintenance property. Others want a large yard for pets and/or kids to play in. Imagine your perfect home, and then write down what the key architectural characteristics would be. For example, some people want large walk-in showers or spa-like bathrooms, while others put a premium on chef-grade kitchens and entertaining spaces. This helps your realtor limit the showing of homes to ones you’ll like.
Determine Your Budget
Run the numbers before you go home shopping. Create a budget and use mortgage calculators to determine the most you could spend on housing including a mortgage. Remember to factor in line items like property taxes, insurance and maintenance. (That’s a common mistake first-time home buyers make.) If the home is in a homeowner’s association, you’ll need to include that, as well.
Once you know how much house you can afford, give yourself margin and set the price ceiling for your realtor at 20% below this. That prevents you from becoming house poor if you underestimated your living expenses or got caught up in a bidding war, driving up the price 10%. However, having a price ceiling and sticking to it will prevent you from getting caught up in a bidding war in the first place.
Think about the Time Frame
When do you want to move into a new home? In some cases, it is perfectly clear such as when you need to move by the end of your lease. In other cases, the deadline is more flexible. For example, you might want to move into a new home by the time the kids would be starting school. In this case, you need to be moved into the new home in time to enroll in the local school district, but you could move in any time before that.
Use Home Finder Tools to Simplify the Search Process
Use home finder tools to give realtors a checklist they can use to find the perfect home for you. Check here to see a good example of one. It doesn’t just let you set search criteria like the number of bedrooms and the price range. You can also name must-haves and things you want to avoid, so realtors strike properties from consideration that are not a match. For example, some people want a pool but don’t consider it essential, while others hate the maintenance that comes with it and will rule out any home with one.