to Buying a Home
What To Look For
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Choosing a place to
live can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of a
lifetime. We have learned through the many home buyers
that our agents have helped that the best approach is to
be prepared. Literally, to do some homework. Our
observation is simple. Your move can be an improvement if
you duplicate what you like in your present community and
avoid what you dislike.
Hunting Begins At Home
The search for your
new home can begin in your present home. We have
developed a list of questions to stimulate your thinking
and help you identify your needs and preferences.
clarified what you like in your present community, you
will have a better idea of what you want to find. Plus,
you will be able to then clearly tell us your preferences
so that we can help you find exactly what you want.
The time to think
about selling your home is when youre buying it. In
other words, what appeals to you as a buyer today will
probably also appeal to the buyers of tomorrow.
Conversely, what turns you off will be a turn off to
A careful house
hunter will benefit years from now when its time to
sell to an equally value-conscious buyer. You can build
your buyer savvy by reading newspaper classified ads,
homes-for-sale magazines, Realtor web sites and visiting
open houses. Here are key questions to ask yourself
when thinking about your new home:
County And City Questions:
you characterize your present area
as urban, suburban, semi-rural, or rural? Is the
population density low, medium, or high? Is the
population decreasing, stable, or increasing?
natural features are the most
significant? Woods? Hills? Flat land? River?
Ocean shore? Man-made lakes? Streams and ponds?
do you commute to work? Do you walk?
Drive? Car pool? Taxi? Bus? Train? How far must
you travel and how long does it take every
morning and every evening? Do you use available
public transportation for local trips or to visit
close-by communities? Can someone reach your home
on public transportation?
do you do your shopping? Central
commercial districts? Shopping malls? Supermarket
shops or home delivery? Imagine a list
of typical stops that you make in one week. How
many miles and how much time would visiting the
entire list require. Do you want greater
types of schools does your family attend
now? From grade school to graduate school, and
from day care needs to special vocational
training, what facilities will you require in the
next few years? Are there any special needs or
plans? Although its extremely difficult to
compare quality of education, especially when the
most important ingredient is the relationship
between teacher and student, some statistical
indicators can be helpful. These are the average
class size at each grade level, the comparative
standardized text scores, the average salary of
teachers, and the percentage of high school
graduates who go to college.
does the area offer for recreation and
entertainment? Music? Movies and live stage?
Sports arenas? Museums? Nightlife? What types of
indoor and outdoor sports facilities are
available? Are there public parks, country clubs,
athletic clubs, fraternal groups? Do you require
any special facilities?
Choosing A Neighborhood
After you take stock of the
larger view of the county and city, this section helps
you zero in on your neighborhood preferences. In real
estate, an old maxim says there are three criteria that
determine market value: location, location, and
The concept of neighborhood
isnt as precise as county or city. Some people
consider the boundaries to be the district around a grade
school. Others consider it walking distance,
more or less within a half-mile radius. Wherever you draw
the line, a neighborhood is the immediate area around
People and Services
can be described from three standpoints: its people (your
future neighbors), what it looks like, and where its
services are located. Any neighborhood description is
highly subjective, though, which brings up another
observation from my experience. No matter how much
hard data you can gather about a neighborhood, nothing
compares with information that local people provide.
Whether its fellow workers, letter carriers, or
people at a bus stop . . . neighbors are the best
observers of a neighborhood. It is a good idea for you to
visit a neighborhood and talk with the people there to
help you make your decision.
You should talk to
as many people as you can in the neighborhood, and ask
them the following questions:
neighbors socialize regularly, or hold
block parties, picnics, holiday parties, organize
sports teams? What are the ways they have met
their neighbors? Walking a dog, commuting, PTA,
parties, little league, gardening?
types of dwellings: high-rise or
low-rise apartments, condominiums, multi-family
structures, single-family houses, mobile homes?
How much do the neighbors care for lawns and
gardens? Are the houses maintained like
new, adequately, poorly? Is there a
cars parked mostly in garages,
driveways, in the street? How old are the houses?
More than 30 years old? 15 to 30 years? New? How
far apart are the houses? Are property upgrades
common? Swimming pools, tennis courts, fences,
walls, patios, extensive landscaping?
convenience, how does the
neighborhood rate? Can you walk to shopping or is
a car necessary? List your five most frequent
destinations. Are they clustered in one
stop-and-shop location? Two stops? How much time
is required for fire, police, or ambulance
services to arrive in an emergency? How close are
cultural centers, parks, restaurants, theaters,
do the children routinely reach
their schools, play areas, friends homes?
By walking, bicycle, bus, or do parents drive
them? Is public transportation available for
commuting or shopping? Do any local ordinances
affect pets, parking, lawn, etc.?
are the disadvantages of the
neighborhood? Freeway, railroad, or airplane
noise? Factory pollution, heavy traffic, exposure
to heavy storms, possible flooding?
Area House Styles
area is known for its variety of housing. This section is
designed to introduce some of the basic styles most
frequently found in the area. Numerous variations and
other unique styles not mentioned here are also
Cod. A symmetrical peaked roof often
with dormer windows which creates a
one-and-a-half story design with living space
upstairs in an expansion attic.
A two-story design with center hall or side
entry, often with basement. Variations often
feature double or single wings with garage.
Numerous styles include New England, Federal,
Plantation, Dutch Colonial, Georgian, French
Modern and non-traditional creation of living
spaces using a spectrum of shapes, materials, and
designs. An open use of space is
characteristic. May be single or multiple
Condominium. Multi-story building with
elevator access to owned apartments; monthly fee
usually pays for use of recreation facilities,
maintenance and utilities.
Condominium. A cluster of attached
units, four stories or less ranging from
converted garden apartments to ramblers and
two-story townhouses. Resident owns title to
living space while jointly owning public areas;
condominium fee often covers maintenance,
amenities, sometimes water; other utilities may
be individually billed.
A single-story house with all living areas on
same level. Variations include L-shape or U-shape
plan, perhaps with basement. Sometime called
ranch; if it is small, a
bungalow or cottage.
Foyer. Entry is between floors. Makes
use of slope by placing basement partially above
ground level on uphill side, thus basement
becomes livable space. Also called split
Level. Side wing has two levels off main
ground floor; designed for maximum living space
while occupying the least land. Garage and
sub-basement are frequent options.
A row of two-or-three-story dwellings sharing
common walls, also called row houses.
Wide range of styles from contemporary to
colonial. The term semi-detached
describes a pair of townhouse end units; similar
in function to a duplex.
Choosing A House
We believe that we
have saved the best for last. In many ways, home finding
is easier than choosing a county and a neighborhood,
because you are considering tangible details. We can help
you simplify the process even more because you can
pre-screen homes before we hit the road.
that many people decide on a house with
emotion and justify it with facts. This
section will help you find a better balance. First, you
should realize that thousands of houses are sold in the
area every year. Obviously, it would be impossible for
you to ispect the thousands of houses on the market. You
can turn this overwhelming selection to your advantage.
If you can clearly describe the features you require, we
can do a preliminary screening of possible houses for
you. After you select the best houses, you can
concentrate on inspecting your top choices. The key is
knowing what you need.
There are also
questions you need to answer about how you will use the
many people will be living in the house?
Do you prefer a new or resale home? What is your
preferred housing style? Townhouse, colonial,
contemporary, split level, split foyer, Cape Cod,
rambler, or something else?
many total rooms do you need? Bedrooms,
bathrooms? How strongly do you require features
such as: separate living room, dining room,
laundry room, basement or attic, family room,
fireplace, workshop area, garage? How much
property do you require? Do you have preferences
for any particular natural features?
Many of our
customers find it helpful to keep a record of the houses
they inspect. A notebook is handy with pages large enough
to record vital information, as well as hold stapled
pictures of attractive houses and neighborhoods or
clipped advertisements. We will provide you with printed
information about any house that we visit. In our
experience, after you have looked at 2 or 3 or more
houses, it will be very difficult for you to remember
what you have seen.
For many people,
figuring out the financial aspects of buying a house is
the most difficult part. These questions will help you
make sense of it:
the asking price comparable to other
houses in the neighborhood? Higher or lower?
However, when carefully comparing properties, be
sure to take into account the unique features and
improvements that vary house-to-house. Our Agent
will provide you with a Comparative
Market Analysis (CMA) of the house to
help you determine if it is priced right.
the existing mortgage assumable?
Required down payment amount? What financing
method is acceptable to the seller?
are the annual property taxes? Will the
taxes increase with the transfer of deed and a
new market price? Are there any local bonds or
You also need to
take time to think about the physical characteristics of
the house you want:
is the address of property? What is the house
style? What is the lot size? What are the
landscaping details? How much grounds maintenance
will be required? What is the age of house? What
is the structural condition of the house? Are any
major repairs or improvements necessary? What
type of maintenance of the building is needed?
a sketch of floor plans and note the total number
of rooms and baths on each floor. Are there any
extras such as an intercom, fireplaces, phone
jacks? Are there built-in appliances: dishwasher,
garbage disposal, trash compactor? Is there
adequate storage space?
quality of materials, present condition,
craftsmanship both inside and outside. What type
of insulation does the house have? Is there
weather stripping or storm windows?
systems. You should look at the
plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling
systems. What type of fuel does the heating
system use? What will be the estimated annual
cost? A professional inspection of the major
systems is recommended for a house that you are
interested in purchasing.
House Hunting on the Web
One place to start
when looking for your house is to view the properties
listed here. We have developed a Locality Index showing properties that are available in
various communities ... they are all sorted by County and
then by Zip Code.
There are also other sites that
list home for sale. You can Contact
Us to find out
about any of them. We can discuss your needs and our
agent will explain the process to you, including what it
means if we areworking as your Buyer's Agent.
Heres a brief
description of how it works. When a house is listed
for sale by any area broker, the homes vital
statistics are fed into the computer: the lot size; the
age and kind of home (condo, townhouse, single family);
style (colonial, contemporary, Cape Cod, etc.): material
(brick, stone, wood); the number, size, and use of rooms
(4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, kitchen, living and dining
rooms, family room, finished basement and attic, foyer,
utility room, garage).
Also included are
features (fireplace, walkout deck, patio, wooded lot);
equipment (stove, dishwasher, carpeting, etc.); the
heating and/or cooling systems; the water and sewage
systems; the annual taxes; the mortgage balance, monthly
payments and the amount of cash a buyer would need to
assume the existing mortgage (if its assumable), or
the amount of cash required if the seller offers to take
a second mortgage; and, finally, the price.
Finger-Tip Home Search
Working for you as
your Buyer's Agent, our agent can put
your requirements into the computer. These requirements
would include the particular neighborhoods, styles of
homes, the number and kinds of rooms, and the price range
of the house you want. In minutes, the computer makes a
quick search among the thousands of houses that are
listed, and prints out all the ones that meet your
The computer also
helps buyers determine which home sellers will offer
seller financing. It can calculate the amount of mortgage
payments at various interest rates, under various
financing plans. It can also help evaluate the investment
and the financing that is right for the buyer. The best
part is that, unlike most Internet sites that show homes
that are available, it is updated each morning, as
hundreds of houses enter and leave the market. Even our Locality Index listings cannot be updated this quickly.
In short, the only way that you as a home buyer can check
out almost everything thats "out there:"
at a moment's notice is to Contact
Us so that we
can run a specific search for you. Only Realtors can
access this information in "real time."
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information contained on this site is maintained by DMS
Properties, LLC ... Residential Real Estate Services.
We attempt to keep it current, but some delays may occur.
To verify the most current information, contact us.