Noble McIntyre on July 24, 2012
Because of simple inexperience, it’s easy for first-time homebuyers to overlook several important factors during the process of buying a home. Realtors may not point out safety considerations about the neighborhood or surrounding areas, so rather than rely on them to volunteer such information, you’re better off doing your own research.
Other things to keep in mind are the time of day you see the house. Traffic might not be bad then, but what will it be like early Monday morning when you have to get to work? Also, does the area have any restrictions that will prevent you from bringing your beloved pet into the neighborhood? And what kind of education can your kids expect in the district where your new home is located?
This first-time homebuyer checklist will help you ask the right questions, and gather good information so you can make an informed decision before you make the largest purchase of your life. Buying a home should be a joyful event. The last thing you want is to experience buyer’s remorse. Use this checklist, and be informed.
Commute: Before you commit to buying your first home, see what a day in your life at that house would be like. Gauge the traffic when driving (or taking mass transit) at peak hours. You can’t predict the traffic in a new location based on what you have experienced elsewhere.
Traffic: Not quite the same as the commute, drive around your neighborhood and the surrounding roads. How busy are they? Are there more stop signs, or traffic lights? Are there any highways nearby? How close is the home to the road? What kind of condition are the roads in? All these factors can affect your driving experience at this location.
Public Transportation: Do you want to be near public transportation? If so, what kinds of neighborhoods do you have to walk through to reach the bus stop or train station? Map out and walk your route to public transportation if it is a part of your commute, or your child’s.
Accidents: Where do car accidents happen most frequently near the home? Are those areas on your route to work? What is the pedestrian injury history like? What are the drunk driving statistics in the area like?
Breed Specific Legislation: If you own a discriminated breed of dog, or if you are considering getting a dog, research to find out whether the county enforces any breed specific legislation.
Safety: If the home you are considering has a pool, what kind of condition is it in? If it needs repair, how much will it cost? Is it in-ground or above-ground? Is the pool area fenced in? If not, how much will fencing to meet safety requirements cost?
Homeowners Insurance: This is usually mandatory as long as you’re paying a mortgage, but it can also protect you in the event anyone is injured on your property as a result of slip and fall accidents (a particular danger if you have a pool), dog bites, or any other type of mishap. What are homeowners insurance rates like in your area? Are there state-mandated minimums you should be aware of? If you bundle coverage with your car and/or life insurance, can you get a discount from the provider? Will the policy cover fire? Flood? Termites? Weather-related damage from tornadoes or hurricanes?
Rate: Learn about the area’s crime rate. Speak to your realtor and observe the neighborhood. Are there several empty lots or foreclosed homes in that area? What have the most common police reports been in the past month and year? Would you feel safe walking in that area at night?
School District: What school district would your children be enrolled in? What reputation does the school district have? Are there private schools nearby? Would your children be bussed to school, or are the schools within walking distance? What would it require to send your child to a different school district, if necessary? How long does it take to get to the school? How large is the student body? What is the student-to-teacher ratio?