5 Things to Research Before Buying a House

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If you’re looking to buy a home this year, you’re entering a hot market. Low rates continue to make this an appealing time for many people to buy a home. With so much competition, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. Following are five key things to research before buying a house.

5 Things to Consider When Buying a House

1. Location of the house 

Make use of online tools to research neighborhoods. Lots of great resources exist for checking out neighborhoods you are considering. No computer-generated data will compare to talking with a resident, but these online tools can help you develop a feel for areas of interest and narrow down your search. 

  • AreaVibes.com will do lots of data crunching and give you a “livability score” – with letter grades for each component from crime to amenities to cost of living.
  • You can find detailed statistics on locations you’re considering at Moving.com. Choose the “Compare Cities” tab to compare two cities against each other.
  • Research nearby crime reports at myLocalcrime.com and view a sex offender map at FamilyWatchdog.us.
  • Read school reviews at GreatSchools.org.
  • If you don’t plan to rely on a car, check out how easy it is to get around by walking or biking and by public transportation at WalkScore.com.

If you’re nearby, though, nothing beats driving through different neighborhoods to gain a feel for the vibe. Look for the schools, grocery stores, and nearby health care centers. You might want to drive through at rush hour to see the traffic situation, or even park your car and take a walk. 

If you’re close to making a purchase, and you see a neighbor outside caring for their lawn, don’t be afraid to greet them. If you feel comfortable striking up a conversation, that could be your chance to ask any specific questions you have after your research, such as, “What’s your favorite thing about this neighborhood?” or “Will my child find other kids to play with here?”

2. Needs and wants vs. budget for the house

There are many things to consider when buying a house. Your needs and wants are certainly part of that equation. So is your budget. Some important questions to ask yourself include:

  • How much space do you need?
  • Who will need office/study space in the house? What do you want that space to look like?
  • Will you need to drive to work? How far are you willing to drive?
  • How important is a great school district?
  • Are walkability and public transportation important for your family?
  • How important is proximity to a hospital?
  • How important is outdoor space for playing and socializing?
  • Are you looking for child-friendly considerations? (e.g., other children in the neighborhood, sidewalks for riding bikes, a fenced yard) 
  • Do you have strong feelings about having a homeowner’s association? (No HOA means lower costs and more freedom; on the other hand, an HOA may mean amenities like a pool and private snow removal services, plus your neighbors can’t keep three broken-down cars on their lawn.)
  • Are you comfortable looking at fixer-uppers that will mean more work but potentially more savings, or do you want a home that is move-in ready? 

Have everyone in the family make a list of qualities that are important to them. Then go over the lists together and vote on your top non-negotiables – the needs. Put the other items on a separate list of wants.

3. Financing options for your purchase

Since you’re reading this blog post, Islamic financing is something you likely are already interested in. Here’s an overview of Guidance Residential’s trusted Declining Balance Co-Ownership Program and how it compares to conventional mortgages. If you’re the type who likes all the details, read more about all our Islamic home finance options.

4. Pre-approval

When you’re ready to start looking at houses, you can get pre-qualified online in fewer than 10 minutes with Guidance Residential. However, most real estate agents prefer that you get pre-approved fully before you begin shopping for a house. 

A Guidance Residential Account Executive can help you complete this important step. This will give you a solid picture of the price range you’ll be looking within, which allows you to target your search more efficiently. Better yet, it means you’re ready to move quickly when you find the right home. 

5. Real estate agents

Your real estate agent will be your eyes and ears in the housing market, so he or she needs to understand you and your goals. Finding the right fit makes a big difference in your home buying experience. You can meet with a few agents before choosing one to work with. Guidance Home Services also are available to help match you with a proven real estate agent in your local area.

What You Absolutely Need to Know About Buying a Home

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will make. Know that the team at Guidance Residential is here for you every step of the way from pre-qualification and pre-approval on through to finding the right real estate agent for you and your family. We invite you to explore the home buying process with Guidance Residential today.

Your Guidance Residential Account Executive is here to help with any questions. Looking to refinance or purchase? Rates are near historic lows! Have a friend or family member who is looking for a home? Call 1.866.Guidance, or start an application today!