Spend Your New Home Shopping Time Wisely
Time is money when looking for a new home to buy. If you don’t take the time to get informed about the home, the builder, the lender, and the type of loan you need, you may make hasty decisions and end up paying a mortgage for a very long time for a subpar home. Buying a new home should be a happy and exciting experience—so don’t rush this huge purchase. These helpful tips will teach you how to use your home shopping time wisely and efficiently.
Your home search should take more than a weekend or two. This is an incredibly large and important purchase—one you don’t want to end up regretting! It’s definitely not a good idea to buy a home on a whim or off the cuff. Take months, not weeks, to search for a home and do research.
Begin with some thorough soul-searching to see if your finances and credit history are in order. Then, go shopping for a mortgage company. You’ll need to research which type of loan is the best for you and whether you qualify. Getting pre-approved for a loan by a mortgage company or bank is highly recommended. A pre-approval letter not only gives you a good idea of the price of the home you should be shopping for—it also lets sellers know that you are a serious shopper.
Lists Are Important
Once you’re pre-approved for a loan, the fun begins. Sit down and make two lists. The first list should be titled “Wants” and the other should be titled “Needs.” Never, ever confuse the two—they’re not always the same thing. For instance, you may want the kind of mansion you’ve seen in design magazines or articles about celebrity homes. But what you need is three bedrooms, at least two baths, and a neighborhood that’s near good schools for your kids.
Here are some things you may want to consider adding to your list
- Single-level or multi-level home
- The right number of bedrooms and baths
- Homeowners Association
- Verification of energy efficiency
- Home in a gated community
- Home in a master-planned community
- Home in a natural gas community
- Swimming pool
- Spare room for a home office
- Guest room
- Certain style of architecture
- Specific neighborhood
- Large kitchen
- Formal dining room
- Homesite on a cul-de-sac
- Large backyard
- Privacy fence
- Nicely landscaped exterior
- Two-car or larger garage
- Electrical vehicle charging station
- Lots of closet and storage space
- Relaxing and spacious main bath
Once you’ve figured out what you want and need, it’s time to draft one more list, titled “Don’t Want.” Maybe the thought of a home that needs lots of fixing or remodeling puts you off, you don’t want a location near a busy street, highway, or landfill, or you need a floor plan for a certain lifestyle. In other words, jot down what your deal breakers are. Take your time making the lists. When you’re absolutely sure that you’ve thought of everything, then you’re ready to start looking at homes.
You have the right—actually, the responsibility—to ask questions. Sometimes people feel embarrassed to ask certain questions for fear of offending the builder or the seller, but do it. Don’t assume you know the answer. For example, you may assume that the home you are buying is energy efficient. It is normal to think that, and no builder or seller will tell you that it is not. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof. Ask if the home was certified by a high-performance home program like BUILT TO SAVE® or ENERGY STAR®.
And know this—some sellers might say the home passed all of its inspections, but they are probably referring to city code inspections. This probably means the home was built to minimum code standards. Again, even for those inspections, ask for proof.
Another important question should be: “What is the Home Energy Rating Score (HERS) for the home?” If the home was built in compliance with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) mandated by the State of Texas, it will have a HERS score. If it doesn’t have one, then the home was not tested as required by Texas law.
Attend the 2023 RGVBA Parade of Homes
There is a sneak preview of the Rio Grande Valley’s Annual Parade of Homes scheduled for the weekends of June 10-11 (see pages 6-7 of the New Homes Guide magazine). This is an excellent opportunity to tour homes in various price categories and sizes located in amazing new home communities in the area.
In addition to the opportunity to meet with the builder or the company staff, you will find mortgage representatives on-site at some of the Parade homes. They can help answer any questions you may have about financing.
Although not required by Parade of Homes rules, most builders would be happy to meet with you between the Parade dates to schedule a private tour.
Don’t Be Blinded by the Home’s Beauty
With all of the beautiful building materials and interior design products available on the market today, it is easy to get blinded by a home’s elegant looks. But remember that the exotic granite countertop, the luxurious flooring, or every finishing detail that you may fall in love with are not going to make you truly happy in the long term. There are vital things you can’t see. These include home comfort, which is directly related to installing an appropriately sized heating and cooling system; quality construction; and energy efficiency, to name a few. “Know what you are buying” is the best advice when shopping for a new home.
Ask to Take Photos
Taking photos is a good way to keep details in mind and have verification about certain things for later. But before you start snapping photos or shooting videos, it is best to ask for permission first since not every seller or builder is open to the idea. It’s a simple courtesy that your host will greatly appreciate.
If you visit several model homes in one day, you may have trouble remembering which home had which features. This will certainly happen during the Parade of Homes visits. Take detailed notes of each home to jog your memory later. Note what you like—or don’t like—about each home for easy reference later. Ask the sales consultants for brochures or floorplans, which will be extremely helpful in remembering the model homes you visited and will help you compare them. Use or modify the lists you made earlier based on your notes.
Happy home hunting!
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