I just like to look at houses.
Tire-kicking for houses is what we call this, and if this is you, that’s OK. I remember many weekends driving through neighborhoods with my Mom to see what was for sale, and if we happen to catch an open house going on? Woo doggie, this was a real treat to go inside and really get a look. I treasure those times with her.
This website, while focusing on homes for sale in Arlington Heights, lets you search for criteria such as those Open Houses. You can get all kinds of ideas seeing homes that are at their Sunday-best (at least they should be) and ready to sell. Once, I saw some baseboard trim and molding that I liked so much, we now have it throughout our entire house.
All that said, if you’re done with house tire-kicking and ready to get serious about buying a home, you’ll need to do a little bit of homework first. This applies, in my opinion, whether this is a first-time purchase or you consider yourself an old pro.
Here are some tips I have learned from clients and my family’s own purchasing experiences:
- Location: I list this as number one although I doubt many would. I’ll give you that it is a close tie with number two. In my opinion, this matters so much more than the house itself. You have to be comfortable in the neighborhood and the surrounding accoutrements because they are all the places you will do everyday life things. You really want to think long and hard about a home that has a 45-minute commute from civilization if you’re used to having everything five minutes away. Drive around the neighborhoods you are considering at ALL times: evenings, weekends and holidays (if possible) when people are home.
- Loan pre-qualification (budget): Yes, this is a big one and it oftentimes makes those tire-kicking escapades a little tough. When I first had my license, many first-time buyers wanted to me to show them homes that were way outside of their price range. This is not a good way to start since disappointment is sure to follow. Instead, the sooner you team up with a lender the better off you will be. Buyers armed with a pre-qualification letter in-hand have a much better chance of their offer being accepted, even if it’s not the highest. Sellers know you’ve done some homework and are taking it seriously.
- Timing: How soon do you need to move? Is it for a job? Do you have an existing lease that expires? These are items your agent should be asking you. On average, you want to allow at least 45 – 60 days for the loan process (referred to as closing). Most can get it done in less than that, but it depends on so many other factors. I have been in situations that were so stressful, a family was going to have to move twice because of bad timing. You certainly want to avoid this if you can.
- List must have-have nots: Do you need one story or two? Pool? Never want a pool? These lists are crucial to consider BEFORE you begin physically seeing homes. When you’re in a home, you are excited about the possibilities and your emotions are running high. You can always move items from one list to another, but a preliminary go at it will help you evaluate things with a level head.
Okay, that is a good starter list to get the ball rolling for you. Please use the search features we offer to fine-tune that list to be razor sharp. When you’re ready to work with an agent, let us know. We’d be happy to connect you with someone that can navigate you through the process and the #1 thing? That they listen. Yep, it can be that simple…listening to the client.