Getting ready to find your dream home can be both an adventure and a very scary thing to try and work through. How can you know that you’re doing what is best for your particular situation? Which options are you going to need to consider? And what do you need to know while you start the process of house hunting?
In this article, we’re going to explore what you may want to consider as you start the process of hunting for the home of your dreams. Let’s take a deep dive into some of the details you’ll need around moving and how to put together a house hunting checklist of what it is that is best for your family.
What’s Your Budget?
Knowing your budget is a huge task for many people, and it can be intimidating. You need to be sure that you know how much house you can afford because you even start the process of house hunting. You want to get a mortgage secured as best as you can and know that you’re actually going to be able to afford the monthly payments.
At this point, it’s best to start looking at a moving cost calculator to see how much you can expect to spend on the moving process itself. Then, add that number in with any closing costs, down payments, and whatever else you need so that you can move in and you can be pretty certain of how much you’ll need to have on hand.
What You Need vs. What You Want
Another consideration that you need to make before you start house hunting is that you want to know the difference between what it is that you want and what you actually need. Knowing the difference means that you’re a lot less likely to miss out on a home that is otherwise perfect for what you want to do.
How can you tell these differences? Well, this is the time that you want to be sure that you talk to the people who will be moving with you. Whether it’s a spouse or children, you want to cover all of the bases and ensure that everyone understands what you all may want from a home.
What you need is going to be based on family needs. Does everyone need a separate living space? Then that’s a priority. Do you need a garage or space where you can tinker with your tools or take care of sewing, or is that just something you’d prefer? Whittling down what it is that matters and what may not be as important (or can be added later) is an essential part of the process.
Let’s Start that Checklist!
So, now that we’ve explored some of the things that you may need to know before you jump into this process, we’re now going to look at the different categories of questions that you may need to explore in order to put together a checklist that you’re going through.
You can use this entire checklist and make it your own, or you can just take parts of it and modify as necessary. Either way, we hope that this list helps you as you start to develop your own.
What to Research Ahead of Time
- Your realtor
If you’re trying to sort out the details about what you need to do during the process of house hunting, then you want to be sure that you know your realtor well. Do they have a good reputation? Do they seem to communicate well with you and other consumers? Do they answer your questions respectfully and quickly? Learn about them by looking on the web and see what others have to say about them.
- The location
Where are you looking to move to? Is the area a safe place to live? How long does it take for you to get from place to place? What sorts of things are within a reasonable distance of the area? And what does the cost of living look like? Knowing the location before house hunting can help to prevent you from making a mistake.
- Any local fees and taxes
Knowing local fees for parking and such, along with how much you may expect to pay in taxes, can prevent you from getting into a situation where you have unexpected bills. You can usually find tax and fee information on the website of the local government (town, city, or township).
- Availability of cell phone service
Some places are just dead zones when it comes to cell phone service. Or, there will only be certain cell phone providers that offer quality services to the area that you’re looking to move to. You can typically find out where different cell phone companies do well and how you can use them at different places.
- Local utility companies
Which utility companies offer the services in your area? Do you have choices between different companies or is only one company available in your locality? Do the utility companies have any fees or such associated with turning things on? Do they have specials for signing up ahead of time? Research and see what you can learn about them.
- Value of homes when compared to nearby neighborhoods
When you start to look at homes in one area, be sure that you compare that value to other areas nearby. Are the homes higher valued, or lower-valued? What sorts of things are causing that difference and is that something that you’ll be able to work through?
Additional Considerations for Families
- School district information
Which school district is your potential home located in? What sorts of test scores do they have and is the school district a safe one? Knowing the school district before you get ready to move is a big part of knowing whether or not your kids are able to thrive.
- Playgrounds and activities
What sorts of activities are there for your children to enjoy? Are there community centers with after-school programs? Are there parks and playgrounds that you can go to, together or separate? Does the community seem to be investing in the children of the future, or do they just seem to be serving the current residents without any concern for the younger generations?
- Pet-safe areas
If you have furry companions, you want to be certain that they have somewhere to go. Do they have dog parks or places where you could go and take them for a walk? Is there a pet store or a groomer? Pet-safe areas are a must for many pet owners, so you want to be sure that you can find them in your potential new hometown.
What to Look at Inside of a Home
- Walls, ceilings, and flooring
The walls, ceiling, and floors all need to be in top condition. Do you notice anything that’s off-color? Are there spots where you can tell there has been water damage in the past? Or what other concerns do you have about the way they look?
- Bathrooms and kitchens
Are the bathrooms large enough? How many are there and where are they located in the home? Do they look like they are up to date? If you want a bathtub or shower, do you have it available? Will your kids be able to use the bathroom easily? Are they handicap accessible (if necessary)? Does the kitchen have plenty of space? How much counter space does it have? Will there be enough room for all of the supplies and such you may have or you may want to use in there?
How many bedrooms are in the home? Are they all the same size or are they different sizes? If there is a master bedroom, does it have a bathroom attached? Could any bedroom get the modifications necessary so that whoever resides in there would be comfortable or easily get around?
- Living room
Is there a main living space where you can spend time together? Does it have enough room for everything that you may want to put in there? Could you possibly hang a TV on the wall, and do you have access to the modem from the living room? Where is the cable hookup, and is it in a convenient space so that you can hook things up?
- Dining room
Is there a dining space, or is it combined with the kitchen? Do you have enough space to put a dining room table and enough chairs so that your family can eat together? Will there be any storage space available in this room, or will there only be enough space for the table and chairs?
- Doors and windows
Are there multiple entrances and exits to the home? Are they conveniently located? Can someone figure out how to get into your home if they had to? Could they tell which door is the front? How many windows are in the home and are they all insulated properly?
- Security options
Does the home already have a security system installed? If not, what options are available for you to choose from? How can you set up a security system and what areas of your home are going to need the most protection from potential burglars and thieves?
What to Look at Outside of a Home
When was the last time that the roof was replaced? Are there any visible damages or other problems that may be going on? What sorts of roof repairs may need to be done before you can move into the home, and will the current owner cover those?
What sorts of plants are you going to find outside of the home? Are there any trees that may need to be trimmed or cut down? What about bushes and garden spaces? Is there any stonework or fencing that needs to be replaced or fixed before you move into the house?
Does the house have a garage? How many vehicles can fit in it? Is it an automatic garage or a manual garage door? Can it be converted? What type of flooring does it have? How much space will you have if you use it for vehicles? And does it provide an alternate entrance to your home?
What color is it? What materials is the siding made from? Do you know the last time that the siding was replaced? Has the house ever been checked to ensure that there are no hazardous materials under the siding?
- Overall curb appeal
When you look at the house, how do you feel? Do you feel like it’s an attractive option that your family will stay in for a long time? Or are you not really happy with the way that it looks? Will you have to do a lot of work to get it to look great, or is it pretty nice to look at from the start?
- Patio or deck
If there’s any sort of outdoor space – a patio, deck, pool, outdoor kitchen, or another gathering place – you want to be sure that you take a good look at that as well. Does it look nice? Will it be something that you’d actually use? And do you want to have it?
How Can I Make House Hunting Easier for Everyone?
- Wear good shoes and comfortable clothing.
- Be realistic about your expectations and what you’re going to see.
- Be sure to ask any questions about known issues and other problems that may come up.
- Take pictures so that you can look at them later or show others.
- Keep a map handy (whether on your phone or in your car).
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways that you can go about putting together a list. It takes time to find what works for your purposes and you can actually learn a lot as you go, as well. What are you doing to get ready for your big move? What sorts of things are you going to put on your house hunting checklist? Good luck finding the home of your dreams!