There are many factors to consider when buying a new home, from location and schools, to size and price. It’s one of life’s most significant purchases. Here are a few ways homebuyers can prepare for the process and be ready when that dream home comes up.
Avoid making other major purchases. It’s not wise to make any large purchases or move your money around three to six months before buying a new home because this might affect your credit profile. Lenders need to see that you’re reliable, and they want a complete paper trail so you get the best loan possible. If you open new credit cards, amass too much debt or buy a lot of big-ticket items, you’re going to have a hard time getting a loan.
Get prequalified. Builders recommend that buyers get approved for a loan before starting the house hunt. Knowing that you qualify for a certain amount will keep you looking in the right price range — and from falling in love with a home that’s out of your reach. It also lets the sales counselors know you are a serious shopper.
Decide what’s a priority. Make a checklist of wants vs. needs, such as number of bedrooms and desired square footage before heading to model homes or open houses. That way your REALTOR can help you find a house that fits your needs.
Take notes. Compare floor plans, features and options as well as homesites and offers at each model community or home you visit. This will come in handy when you narrow it down to the top two or three choices.
Investigate the neighborhood. Learn about your location. Ask the sales counselor about HOA fees, school zones and explore the neighborhood. Test out your morning and evening commutes, and visit daily destinations such as grocery stores and pharmacies to ensure you’re making the right move.
Don’t miss opportunities. Don’t get caught up in trying to time the market just right. The best time to buy is when you find the house that fits your needs and your budget. Real estate is cyclical, so, if you try to wait for the perfect time, you’re probably going to miss out.
Bigger doesn’t always mean better. You may not need the largest floor plan, biggest yard or best view. Those can come with high lot premiums, and your rate of return is likely to be lower than on a similar home in the same neighborhood. Keep in mind that these premium lots and homes only appeal to a very small audience, limiting potential buyers when you sell.
Check out the estimated energy usage. One of the benefits of purchasing a new home is the advanced building materials used in new construction. Ask your sales counselor about a home’s energy efficiency and how much you can expect to pay in utility bills each month. Different homebuilders in Texas build homes with different energy saving certifications and many offer additional features, such as solar hookups, that can reduce your bill further. In Texas, air conditioners are major consumers of electricity. Check the SEER rating of the A/C unit and upgrade to a better unit if possible. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency.
Energy efficient appliances: Buy energy efficient appliances like washer and dryer. This will save you money in the long run.
New or resale. Weigh the pros and cons of new construction vs. a resale home. New homes come with warranties so you don’t have to worry about paying for repairs for some time. And they are built with the latest technologies and materials and construction standards, offering better insulation, fire resistant roofs, energy efficient windows, new appliances and more. Although there is a lot of new home construction in Coppell, Frisco, Flower Mound, Southlake, McKinney, Irving, some areas like Southlake, Highland Park, University Park and Lakewood have mostly older homes available for sale.
Finding the right home is a lot like dating. Know what you’re looking for, make yourself look as attractive as possible and look around. You’ll wind up with “just the right one” in no time!