Home buying fundamentals don’t change. They remain constant regardless of interest rates and market conditions and apply to any type of home purchase, from a studio condominium to a hundred acre vineyard estate. What are home buying fundamentals? They are simply location, functionality and affordability. Ignore or over-complicate any of them during the purchasing process and buyer’s remorse may find its way to your doorstep. Let’s look at each of these fundamentals and how they help home buyers make better decisions.
Location always tops the list of desirable features of a home. Convenient commutes to work, schools and amenities (shopping, dining, services, etc.) can save time, reduce stress and lower transportation costs. Location also effects price, making selection of the right neighborhood, school district and other location-sensitive concerns important to staying within your home search budget and for estimating future re-sale value. Drawing circles on a map around neighborhoods that meet your needs is a good way to begin the home hunting process.
Functionality includes every physical feature of a home, including aesthetics. Many cosmetic features can be changed with the stroke of a brush or simple remodel, but home buyers should also consider the livability of more permanent features by conducting their own time and motion study. An easy way to do this is to simulate on paper what you do each day. Sketch the floor plan of your current home or create a draft floor plan for an ideal next home, then talk through typical daily activities. Are morning traffic snarls common in the hallway due to not enough bathrooms? Add a bathroom to your sketch and to your list of needed features. Instead of a four bedroom, two bath home you may need a four bedroom, three bath home. Need a powder room for guests? Add a half bath in the main hallway. Checklist entries for type and number of spaces needed in your new home will take shape quickly. If applicable, add important details such as minimum square footage for a master bedroom.
Once you have a checklist that identifies desired locations and functionality, how best to prioritize each item? Try labeling them with terms such as Must Have, Prefer or No Preference. If you have features that should be labeled Prefer Not or Must Not, add those to your checklist, too. Prioritized checklists are excellent tools for communicating house hunting criteria to your real estate agent.
The final fundamental, affordability, should be considered at the start of your home search and then again as your finalize purchase criteria. If neighborhoods and features on your map and checklist can be purchased within your budget – fine. If not, revisit needs and realign priorities. Your budgeted purchase price should not be based on just your mortgage qualification limit, it should be the maximum amount you are willing to pay after considering your complete financial picture.
The home buying fundamentals of location, functionality and affordability are the same in all markets and with all types of properties. Applying them with a structured approach will increase your chances of finding your perfect home.
About Real Living with Broker John™
John Souerbry offers tips and information covering all aspects of real estate ownership, buying and selling each week in Real Living with Broker John™. John is Broker/Owner of Cordon Real Estate, a full service brokerage serving home buyers, sellers and investors in the San Francisco Bay Area (CA BRE 01370983). The firm deals primarily with homes, estates, apartment complexes and land. Contact John with questions or comments regarding Real Living or Wine Country, East Bay and Silicon Valley real estate.
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