In the past six months, we've been on both the buyer and seller side of a home. Being in our upper 20's, it's evident that there is still so much for us to learn. What we do know is that what our parents told us has proven to be pretty darn accurate. The list below is made up of things that we might have already known but it's since been reinforced and other's we've had to learn the hard way.
In other words - all helpful information that I'd happily give to anyone as they encounter the monster called house hunting. Hopefully the following will make the investment much more of an exciting venture than a stressful one!
1) LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. It really is EVERYTHING when you house hunt. For example, there are specific styles of homes that make me cringe. However, if we found one if an area we really wanted to be in, the style becomes irrelevant compared to location.
2) Don't fall in love with anything you see online. Pictures can be very deceiving; either by making homes look really good when they are in rough shape, or they can misrepresent a great house by taking poor photos.
3) It never hurts to ask. Anything and everything. Assume you know very little.
4) Hire a real estate agent. Get recommendations from friends or google specific agencies before hiring them. Our agent has been priceless in our search! She's become our psuedo-parent in our hunt and given us priceless information and resources.
5) RESALE. Unless this is your "forever home," you NEED to consider resale value. What school district are you in? What are other homes selling for in the area? Do you have to put in a lot of work in order to resell it in 5-7 years? Are their new developments (residential or commercial) in the area that will affect your location? Call the police department and get a crime report of the area over the past five years. Drive through the area at night.
7) Don't buy the nicest house on the block.
8) Nothing is final or guaranteed until the last paper is signed.
9) You won't walk into your dream home. There will be things you want to change. Which brings me to this...
10) Do your research before you house hunt. Know how much appliances cost, what your taxes or association fees will be, or how much it would be to demolish a wall. The worst thing is to fall in love with the "potential" of a home, with no real concept of how much it would cost to bring that "potential" to life.
11) Paint is your best friend.
12) Use any resources at your disposal. Ask your parents, friends, etc. who have any experience or knowledge about home purchasing or remodeling. This is the time to not be prideful and ask the "stupid" questions.
13) Don't assume anything about a home until you see it in person.
14) "New" does not always mean better. "Updated" does not mean it was a good update.
15) Don't look at things over your price range. You'll end up falling in love with something that you cannot afford. It's a mean trick that will only result in dissatisfaction.
16) You can make anywhere home, but remember, you do have to live there. Don't settle for something sub-par just because you want to purchase a house.