Questions to Answer Before You Step Foot in an Open House
In our series, How to Find the Perfect Home for You and Your Budget, you’ll learn how to find a home that is the right fit for your lifestyle, needs and, most importantly, your budget. We take you through every single step and show you how to avoid buyer’s remorse. Your first home is most likely the stepping stone for your next home so you want to do it right and set yourself up financially to move up to your next home.
We all do it. We finally feel ready to buy a home, the time is right, we feel like we have saved enough for a down payment, AND we then assume the next logical step is to get online and find some open houses to go to.
Resist that urge. Yep, we tell our clients to NOT start looking around at homes immediately!
Because we want clients like you to look “under your hood” so-to-speak and ask yourself some very important questions first. We want you first to define and picture the life you want to live and a home that will match it.
Most agents don’t approach home buying this way, but we do.
This “self-analysis” will dig deeper than “how much square footage would you like?” Your honest and revealing answers will lead you to the right home purchase -- for you, for your lifestyle, and for your budget. Don’t think that this brainstorming and self-exploration is something to scoff at. Your answers to the questions below will help you avoid a personal and financial regret when it comes to real estate. You don’t want to rush in blindly when buying a home. That’s why if you slow down and take the time to think and really evaluate your life and the “what” and “why” for a home, the rest of your home-buying experience (especially the house-hunting part) will be that much more rewarding and stress-free.
You’ll actually get everything you want … and maybe even things you didn’t think you could have (or didn’t think about before)!
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Step Foot in an Open House:
1.) How long do you plan to live in this next home (and also will you rent the home out after you move)?
This is THE absolute most important question to answer honestly since it will affect the rest of your home-buying search. You must answer this question first before you continue to the others.
2.) What will your life look like during that time frame?
Answering this question will help you determine what purpose your home will serve, most specifically your wants and needs at that stage of your life. Plus, you’ll determine what your #1 reason for buying a home now and for the time period you want to own that home.
3.) What about your current daily life do you love and are not willing to give up?
For example, do you love being able to walk to work? Do you like going to your local coffee house every day and enjoy local conveniences? Do you like to take runs outside or hit the gym instead? What is your actual reality day-to-day that you don’t want to sacrifice if possible?
4.) Are you more of a “homebody” or more of a “night-out-on-the-town” kind of person?
Knowing the answer to this question will help you determine how much space you need. If you never have people over, then why have a huge space for that dining table you never use? But, if you rather cook dinner for friends than bar hop, then don’t give up your dream of having enough room to make this desire a reality.
5.) Do you work late and need to be close to the office with a quick, easy commute? Do you work remotely?
This question will help you determine location as well as things like whether you need a dedicated parking spot. Or, maybe you love biking to work every morning, but don’t want to have your bike in your living room anymore. Then looking for bike storage in a building that’s easy to get in and out of every day, twice a day will be important to you.
6.) What are your personal and financial goals during the timeframe you are going to be living in this new home?
For example, do you plan to change jobs at some point so that your finances may change – a possible increase or decrease in salary? You don’t want to have a mortgage that binds you to your current job, especially if your goal is to switch to a less stressful work life while living there.
7.) What are your hobbies and how will they impact your life while you live in this home?
For example, would you prefer to live in a less expensive, possibly smaller home so you have the funds to travel the world or even for a favorite hobby … (family vacations, travel photography, etc.)?
Or, do you want to live close to an important outside interest (think horseback riding, ballroom dancing, etc.)? Or, do you want space for your hobbies (think painting with canvases and easels, crafting supplies, or refurbishing antiquing finds, etc.)? For example, my husband and son both play the drums and wherever we move we are thinking about space for them to practice in our home.
8.) Do you consider yourself a “location person” or a “house person”?
Some people get more excited about the local amenities than the features inside their home. Usually people tend to be more one than the other. Which are you? What do you tend to gravitate toward? For example, would you rather be near urban conveniences, lots of quiet green space, or a wider number of school choices? Then location could be more important to you. If so, many locations have distinct personalities and you want to find one that works for you. Keep in mind that certain locations will feature only certain types of homes to buy – condo apartment, row house, townhome, or single-family home. On the other hand, if having lots of inside space, an awesome chef’s kitchen, and a Jacuzzi bathtub gets you all excited rather than any particular neighborhood, then you are more of a house person. With remote work, many people now have much more options for locations, so take your time to think about what you enjoy most.
9.) Are schools in the neighborhood a factor for this home purchase?
Even if you don’t plan to have children soon, it’s a question worth asking since homes in some school districts tend to appreciate more in value. If you have young children or plan to start a family in the near future, then getting yourself educated about schools will be important. Just remember that your agent can’t recommend school districts due to Fair Housing Laws. You’ll need to do your own research and get feedback from friends and family.
10.) What about your current home would like to change or be different in your next home?
What bothers you every single day about your current home? For example, it could be the lack of closet space or not enough counter space in the kitchen. And, on the flip side, what is the absolute most important, can’t-live-without it, deal breaker thing you MUST have? (We all have one.) Do you really, really want that master bedroom suite or that large eat-in kitchen? What about parking space? Or to live near public transit?
11.) Describe your ideal scenario when it comes to your home purchase and why.
This is the time to dream BIG! After asking yourself all the questions above, now’s the time to take your brainstorming to pen and paper. Get out a piece of paper and write down everything you could possibly have if you could have it all (within reason) in your next perfect home. Don’t hold back! Write down things you might think are out of reach.
12.) What would you be willing to compromise on in a home?
It’s hard to start with what you are willing to give up, but after listing out all the things you DO want from the questions above (and don’t hold back on this part—list everything!) Circle three things you could possibly live without on that list.
Congrats on answering all of these questions and hopefully it sparked some additional self-analysis that will help you find that perfect home! Next week, we’ll take a closer look at whether you are a “location” person or a “house” person. This will be your guiding compass when you start house hunting.