So you’re starting to think about buying a home of your own. After crunching the numbers and dipping your toe into the market by driving around the neighborhoods that you love or going to open houses on the weekend, you think you might be ready to take the plunge.
Before you speak to a qualified realtor to make an offer or take out a loan with a bank or mortgage lender, there are a number of things that first-time homebuyers should be looking for when purchasing their first home.
- Location – The first rule of real estate has always been about the three L’s: Location, location, location. The one thing that you cannot change about any home is its location. If you love a particular house for its amenities, but it’s in a less than desirable area where there is an increased risk of flooding or other natural disasters, it’s best to pass on it. You can always add the amenities later. Homes located near shopping, good schools, parks, and public transportation are in high demand and tend to retain their resale value.
- Curb Appeal – Whether you prefer a formal Tudor or Victorian home, a Craftsman-style bungalow or an energy efficient modern home, look for a home that looks great from the street. Look to see if the property features landscaping that is easy to maintain or has potential hazards such as trees that overhang the roof, walkways or street. What do the front door and garage entryways look like? Garrett Waldrop of National Garage Door in Atlanta advises, “The garage has become its own room and is often used more often than the front door of the home by occupants and guests alike. An attractive garage door that is also insulated can be used year-round.”
- Features and Amenities – All home amenities are not created equal. Things like swimming pools and hardwood floors might be nice; however, homes that feature greater energy efficiency such as insulated windows and doors, as well as walk-in closets, great kitchens, and built-in fireplaces are more sought after whenever you sell your home.
- Check Out the Details – Even though nearly all home purchases require an inspection, it’s still a good idea to check some things first. Turn light switches on and off and make sure switches and outlets are modern. If possible, take a look at the electrical box and wiring. Turn on a faucet or shower to see how quickly hot water is available and if drains the are working properly. Examine windows and doors to see if they open and close easily. Go into the basement of the home and see if there are any signs of moisture, indications of uneven foundations, pest infestations, or other potential problems. Any warning signs could mean a potential home inspection nightmare that you end up getting stuck with.