You know the Boy Scout motto, right?
It’s finally time to start going to home after home on your list with your REALTOR®. Your agent should be sending you a ton of possible listings that should be in line with your set of specifications you deem necessary for establishing a firm commitment towards purchasing your new home. You spend all night with your spouse/partner going over the homes you agree to view when the showings start like you are in high school studying for an exam. You pick your favorites, email them to your agent and they set up the showings with the prospective listing agents. Keep in mind, viewing these homes will feel like window shopping in Paris during Fashion Week. You will see some that wow you, some that interest you and some that make you wonder what the hell you were thinking wanting to see it. It’s amazing what professional photography does btw. When considering homes to view, there are a bevy of things one should consider when considering a home purchase. Let’s discuss some of the most popular ones.
1. Understand the school system and local zoning. Houston is zoned specifically to location and choosing a home in a location with underperforming schools might not be the direction you are wishing to pursue. Each school zone is graded A-F in rating and encompasses Elementary, Middle or Junior High and High School. There are breakdowns for average class size and average teacher tenure. If those are important, and by my history of dealing with buyers, they are, then the location of your future home should stay within the preferred zone that is best within your educational expectations for your children. An advantage of a higher rated school zone home could fetch a better return of investment when considering resale of the home. A disadvantage could be a higher price point with more buyers competing for the same home. Pick your poison, as this is usually the number one factor for most when considering their home purchase.
2. Is the home in an HOA or Condo Association? Most homeowners’ associations for residential homes average roughly $50-100 monthly depending on the area. Along with being charged monthly, what does the association offer? Local patrol, pool access with clubhouse, walking trails, gated community, etc.? Townhome and condo communities usually see monthly charges averaging between as low as $150 to in some cases as high as $1000 monthly (albeit these are usually outlier homes and usually affordable to a lower percentage of potential buyers.) While HOA, COA, etc. aren’t usually paid along with mortgage and taxes when not taken into consideration, you could wind up not having properly considered your monthly payment. Luckily, most lenders understand this and make sure the buyers understand the monthly expectations before going under contract. Utilize their expertise and make sure you stay in your lane financially speaking.
3. Going back to #2, taxes are big in determining a home purchase for many. Texas is normally among the highest property taxes in the country, usually residing among the 10 most expensive and in some years top 5. Now, a benefit to Texas is no state taxes, so realistically things seemingly have a level of balance, but not understanding the tax rates in certain areas could determine the affordability of your home. Also remember, taxes aren’t paid on the purchase or appraisal value, they are determined via assessed value of the home determined by a county tax accessor. You also need to consider homestead exemptions. Now, instead of waiting until the following year for January 1st, you can immediately homestead exempt your home after closing. This is close to as high as a 20% reduction in taxes YOY. It may not seem like a lot, but if pinching pennies to bring a house across the finish line is in your future, saving every penny means a great deal.
4. Exhibit a clear understanding of an MLS info sheet. Ask your realtor to print these off and bring during showings. Information provided by the info sheet include but are not limited to HOA/COA fees, inclusions and exclusions, room sizing, school systems, room descriptions, etc. You can nearly have a painted picture of the home before you arrive on location. While things aren’t necessarily perfectly stated from the MLS info sheet, it is usually a pretty accurate representation of the property.
5. Bring water and a pen and pad for notes. The likelihood of visiting multiple properties and remembering everything while you are there isn’t that easy considering each property most likely offers significant differences. To confuse them and report the wrong ones to the agent who writes the offer on the wrong home, could be embarrassing. It could also be slightly costly, especially if you write an all-cash offer with no options period and a 1% earnest contract. Try explaining that to the other agent who accepts the offer and the seller who signed an executed contract. Very possible, something could be worked out between both parties, but do you really want it to get to that. TAKE NOTES!!!
The final thing you need to bring is a confident and prepared perspective before viewing. I have stated several times to my buyers, friends and family, you need to be two types of ready when buying; monetarily and emotionally. Those 2 will stand the test of time. Put them both in your pocket, communicate with your agent, ask tons of questions, do your own research and be the most prepared person in the room. You got this.
The opinions shared and/or suggested are my own, and not necessarily shared by my brokerage. Contact me today for a brief consultation to see if the time to buy/sell is right for you.