At ICI Homes, we think home buying is a good thing. We’re walking you through all the major considerations of it, so you can make your most informed decision — crucial if you’re a renter seeking to make a change.
In Part I of our Buying Versus Renting series, we offered a birds-eye view of the positives of home ownership. In Part 2, we walked through personal financial basics that form the foundation of any home purchase.
In Part 3, we offer helpful guidelines for your new-home search. To help you focus on the exercise, let’s agree you’re interested in a single-family home in a typical neighborhood. Let’s also agree your financial health is good, you’re pre-approved for a mortgage and you’ve selected the area where you want to live.
Here we go.
Your budget parameters narrow your search
Knowing your financial health and being pre-approved for a mortgage keeps you centered. You know what you can afford (say the $250,000-300,000 range). Don’t waste precious weekend time — when most house-hunting gets done — ogling the $750,000-and-above mini-mansions.
Using your budget parameters as a focusing mechanism means you can plan a driving tour (or online tour, if you don’t live near your chosen locale) of neighborhoods and master-planned developments that offer new homes in your price range. Use builders’ and real estate websites to specify even further: I want to see this house, on this street.
Sometimes serendipity strikes. You’ll find a home in your price range that you hadn’t considered, or didn’t appear on the builder’s website you culled — and it’s almost perfect.
Model homes are idea gold mines
Especially if you’re buying a new home for the first time and want to see how certain floor plans look in real life. We’ve mentioned this before, but the real estate agents stationed in those models also can be helpful. They know what’s trending (and not) and can answer questions.
Remember what we said about not wasting time looking at homes out of your price range? There’s one exception: if you’ve already zeroed in on several good candidates in your price range. That’s the time to tour the $750,000 mini-mansion model for design inspiration — decor you like, room siting and wood-like ceramic tile that might match your future living area.
Circle neighborhoods with A-rated schools
“But I don’t have kids,” you might say.
Doesn’t matter. An A-rating is the gold standard for public school systems. You’ll often see building booms in those districts — and a better choice of new homes — because parents want their kids in those schools. Homes in A-rated districts also tend to hold their value. That’s important regardless of whether you have children.
Budget reminder: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
Let’s consider our hypothetical $250,000-300,000 budget range. Per your mortgage pre-approval, you can buy a home for any price between those two totals. Should you?
That’s your decision. However, discretion is the better part of valor unless you sense a major income infusion on the horizon. A helpful rule of thumb: buy in the upper limit of your budget ONLY if the new home you want is the absolute perfect fit.
In Part 4 of Buying Versus Renting, we’ll discuss where to buy a new home, and what kind.
Ready to buy a new custom home? ICI Homes can help. Start here.